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research-article

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, P.R. China; School of Materials Science & Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA
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, P.R. China
782859519@qq.com

Yu Chen

School of Materials Science & Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA
yu.chen@mse.gatech.edu

Wenjun Chen

School of Mechanical and Automotive Engineering, South China University of Technology, Wushan Road 381, Guangzhou 510640, P.R. China
912884095@qq.com

Jinyi Hu

School of Mechanical and Automotive Engineering, South China University of Technology, Wushan Road 381, Guangzhou 510640, P.R. China
1058551620@qq.com

Yong Tang

School of Mechanical and Automotive Engineering, South China University of Technology, Wushan Road 381, Guangzhou 510640, P.R. China
ytang@scut.edu.cn

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4039298 History: Received October 22, 2017; Revised January 17, 2018

Abstract

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 is high. In the case of high-concentration operation, the use of a super-hydrophobic pattern is more able to reduce methanol crossover and increase fuel efficiency since it helps maintain a lower water balance coefficient 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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