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Research Papers

Enhanced Water Management and Fuel Efficiency of a Fully Passive Direct Methanol Fuel Cell With Super-Hydrophilic/ -Hydrophobic Cathode Porous Flow-Field

[+] Author and Article Information
Wei Yuan

School of Mechanical and
Automotive Engineering,
South China University of Technology,
Wushan Road 381,
Guangzhou 510640, China;
School of Materials Science & Engineering,
Georgia Institute of Technology,
Atlanta, GA 30332
e-mails: mewyuan@scut.edu.cn;
wei.yuan@mse.gatech.edu

Fuchang Han

School of Mechanical and
Automotive Engineering,
South China University of Technology,
Wushan Road 381,
Guangzhou 510640, China
e-mail: 782859519@qq.com

Yu Chen

School of Materials Science & Engineering,
Georgia Institute of Technology,
Atlanta, GA 30332
e-mail: yu.chen@mse.gatech.edu

Wenjun Chen

School of Mechanical and Automotive
Engineering,
South China University of Technology,
Wushan Road 381,
Guangzhou 510640, China
e-mail: 912884095@qq.com

Jinyi Hu

School of Mechanical and
Automotive Engineering,
South China University of Technology,
Wushan Road 381,
Guangzhou 510640, China
e-mail: 1058551620@qq.com

Yong Tang

School of Mechanical and
Automotive Engineering,
South China University of Technology,
Wushan Road 381,
Guangzhou 510640, China
e-mail: ytang@scut.edu.cn

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received October 22, 2017; final manuscript received January 17, 2018; published online March 15, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Partha P. Mukherjee.

J. Electrochem. En. Conv. Stor. 15(3), 031003 (Mar 15, 2018) (11 pages) Paper No: JEECS-17-1123; doi: 10.1115/1.4039298 History: Received October 22, 2017; Revised January 17, 2018

Water management is a critical issue for a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC). This study focuses primarily on the use of a super-hydrophilic or super-hydrophobic cathode porous flow field to improve the water management of a passive air-breathing DMFC. The flow field layer was made of an in-house copper-fiber sintered felt (CFSF) which owns good stability and conductivity. Results indicate that the super-hydrophilic flow field performs better at a lower methanol concentration since it facilitates water removal when the water balance coefficient (WBC) is high. In the case of high-concentration operation, the use of a super-hydrophobic pattern is more able to reduce methanol crossover (MCO) and increase fuel efficiency since it helps maintain a lower WBC due to its ability in enhancing water back flow from the cathode to the anode. The effects of methanol concentration and the porosity of the CFSF are also discussed in this work. The cell based on the super-hydrophobic pattern with a porosity of 60% attains the best performance with a maximum power density of 18.4 mW cm−2 and a maximum limiting current density of 140 mA cm−2 at 4 M.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

A schematic of the CFSF preparation

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Fig. 2

Appearance and SEM images of the surface of CFSF with different porosities: (a) 50%, (b) 60%, and (c) 70%

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Fig. 3

An exploded view of the configuration of the passive air-breathing DMFC

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Fig. 4

Images of absorbing and spreading out behavior

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Fig. 11

Effects of porosity of the hydrophobic CFSF on the performance of PAB-DMFC: (a) 2 M, (b) 4 M, and (c) 6 M

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Fig. 10

Effects of porosity of the hydrophilic CFSF on the performance of the passive air-breathing DMFC: (a) 1 M, (b) 2 M, and (c) 4 M

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Fig. 9

Effects of wettability on the open circuit voltage of the passive air-breathing DMFC: (a) 2 M and (b) 4 M

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Fig. 8

Effects of the cathode structure on the performance of the passive air-breathing DMFC: (a) 1 M, (b) 2 M, (c) 4 M, and (d)6 M

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Fig. 7

Effects of material properties on the conductivity: (a) wettability and (b) porosity

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Fig. 6

Relationship between the contact angle on the surface of CFSF and the aging time in the air

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Fig. 5

Contact angle images of the CFSF surface: (a) static, (b) rolling on the tilted CFSF, and (c) rolling on the horizontal CFSF

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