Advances in Direct Oxidation Methanol Fuel Cells
~L. Surampudi, S.I/. Narayanan, F. Vamos, H. Frank and G. Ha]pert
Jet Propulsion I,aboratory
California lnst.i.tute of l’ethnology, Pasadena Ca 91109
A. l,aconti and J. Kosek
G.K. Suryaprakash and G. A. Olah
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA
FLICI cells that can operate directly on fuels such as methanol are
attractive for low to medium power appl i cations in view of their
low weight. and volume relative to other power sources.
feed direct methanol fuel cell has been developed based on a proton
exchange membrane electrolyte and Pt/Ru and Pt catalyzed fuel and
air/02 electrodes respectively. ‘I’he cell has been shown to deliver
significant power outputs at temperatures of 60 to 90° C.
voltage is near 0.5 V at 300 mA/cm2
current density and an
operating temperature of 90 ‘C. A deterrent to performance appears
to be methanol crossover through the membrane to the oxygen
Further improvements in performance appear possible by
minimizing the methanc)l crossover rate.
Direct oxidation methanol fuel cells (DMFC) are attractive for
several defense and transportation applications in view of their
lower weight and volume compared to indirect fuel cells ( 1,2). ~’he
weight and volume advantages of direct oxidation fuel CCIIS are due
to the fact that they CIO not require any fuel processing equipment.
l:]imination of the fuel processor also results in simpler design
and operation, higher reliability, less maintenance, and lower
capital and operating costs.
Further, direct oxidation fuel cells
are projected to have rapid and multiple start up capabilities, and
the ability to easily follow varying loads.
Under a task sponsored by the @fense Research Projects Agency
JPI,, USC, and Gineq~~re engaged in the development of
direct methanol fuel cells for future defence applications. A near
term objective of the program is to identify advanced catalysts and
electrolytes and demonstrate t