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Submitted to:-

Mr. Tukesh Soni LSE-B




Submitted by:-

Mr.P R Raman Roll no:-RB4912B37 LSE-B 02/04/2011



I take this opportunity to present my votes of thanks to all those guidepost who really acted as lightening pillars to enlighten our way throughout this project that has led to successful and satisfactory completion of this study. We are really grateful to our HOD Mr. Gurpreet singh phull for providing us with an opportunity to undertake this project in this university and providing us with all the facilities. We are highly thankful to Mr.Tukesh soni for her active support, valuable time and advice, whole-hearted guidance, sincere cooperation and pains-taking involvement during the study and in completing the assignment of preparing the said project within the time stipulated. Lastly, We are thankful to all those, particularly the various friends , who have been instrumental in creating proper, healthy and conductive environment and including new and fresh innovative ideas for us during the project, their help, it would have been extremely difficult for us to prepare the project in a time bound framework.

MANISH KUMAR 02/04/2011

Table of content
1. Abstract 2. History of polymer fuell cell 3. Polymer exchange membrane 4. Proton exchange membrane fuel cell design issues 5. Science of PEM fuel cell 6. Catalyst research 7. PEM fuel cell application 8. Methanol fuel cell 9. History 10. What is methanol? 11. How it works? 12. Byproducts of methanol fuel cell 13. Advantages of DMFC 14. Application in various fields

Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cellsalso called proton exchange membrane fuel cellsdeliver high-power density and offer the advantages of low weight and volume, compared with other fuel cells. PEM fuel cells use a solid polymer as an electrolyte and porous carbon electrodes containing a platinum catalyst. They need only hydrogen, oxygen from the air, and water to operate and do not require corrosive fluids like some fuel cells. They are typically fueled with pure hydrogen supplied from storage tanks or on-board reformers.Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells operate at relatively low temperatures, around 80C (176F). Low-temperature operation allows them to start quickly (less warm-up time) and results in less wear on system components, resulting in better durability. However, it requires that a noble-metal catalyst (typically platinum) be used to separate the hydrogen's electrons and protons, adding to system cost. The platinum catalyst is also extremely sensitive to CO poisoning, making it necessary to employ an additional reactor to reduce CO in the fuel gas if the hydrogen is derived from an alcohol or hydrocarbon fuel. This also adds cost. Developers are currently exploring platinum/ruthenium catalysts that are more resistant to CO.PEM fuel cells are used primarily for transportation applications and some stationary applications. Due to their fast startup time, low sensitivity to orientation, and favorable power-to-weight ratio, PEM fuel cells are particularly suitable for use in passenger vehicles, such as cars and buses. A significant barrier to using these fuel cells in vehicles is hydrogen storage. Most fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) powered by pure hydrogen must store the hydrogen on-board as a compressed gas in pressurized tanks. Due to the low-energy density of hydrogen, it is difficult to store enough hydrogen on-board to allow vehicles to travel the same distance as gasoline-powered vehicles before refueling, typically 300400 miles. Higher-density liquid fuels, such as methanol, ethanol, natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, and gasoline, can be used for fuel, but the vehicles must have an on-board fuel processor to reform the methanol to hydrogen. This requirement increases costs and maintenance. The reformer also releases carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), though less than that emitted from current gasolinepowered engines.

Before the invention of PEM fuel cells, existing fuel cell types such as solid-oxide fuel cells were only applied in extreme conditions. Such fuel cells also required very expensive materials and could only be used for stationary applications due to their size. These issues were addressed by the PEM fuel cell. The PEM fuel cell was invented in the early 1960s by Willard Thomas Grubb and Leonard Niedrach of General Electric. Initially, sulfonated polystyrene membranes were used for electrolytes, but they were replaced in 1966 by Nafion ionomer, which proved to be superior in performance and durability to sulfonated polystyrene. PEM fuel cells were used in the NASA Gemini series of spacecraft, but they were replaced by Alkaline fuel cells in the Apollo program and in the Space shuttl.

Parallel with Pratt and Whitney Aircraft, General Electric developed the first proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) for the Gemini space missions in the early 1960s. The first mission to utilize PEMFCs was Gemini V. However, the Apollo space missions and subsequent Apollo-Soyuz, Skylab and Space Shuttle missions utilized fuel cells based on Bacon's design, developed by Pratt and Whitney Aircraft. Extremely expensive materials were used and the fuel cells required very pure hydrogen and oxygen. Early fuel cells tended to require inconveniently high operating temperatures that were a problem in many applications. However, fuel cells were seen to be desirable due to the large amounts of fuel available (hydrogen and oxygen). Despite their success in space programs, fuel cell systems were limited to space missions and other special applications, where high cost could be tolerated. It was not until the late 1980s and early 1990s that fuel cells became a real option for wider application base. Several pivotal innovations, such as low platinum catalyst loading and thin film electrodes, drove the cost of fuel cells down, making development of PEMFC systems more realistic. However, there is significant debate as to whether hydrogen fuel cells will be a realistic technology for use in automobiles or other vehicles..

What is Proton exchange membrane ?

A proton exchange membrane or polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) is

a semipermeable membrane generally made from ionomers and designed to conduct protons while being impermeable to gases such as oxygen or hydrogen. This is their essential function when incorporated into a membrane electrode assembly (MEA) of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell or of a proton exchange membrane electrolyser : separation of reactants and transport of protons. PEMs can be made from either pure polymer membranes or from composite membranes where other materials are embedded in a polymer matrix. One of the most common and commercially available PEM materials is Nafion, a DuPont product. While Nafion is an ionomer with a perfluorinated backbone like Teflon, there are many other structural motifs used to make ionomers for proton exchange membranes. Many use polyaromatic polymers while others use partially fluorinated polymers. Proton exchange membranes are primarily characterized proton conductivity (), methanol permeability (P), and thermal stability. by

Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC) are believed to be the best type of fuel cell as the vehicular power source to eventually replace the gasoline and diesel internal

combustion engines. First used in the 1960s for the NASA Gemini program, PEMFCs are currently being developed and demonstrated for systems ranging from 1W to 2kW. PEM fuel cells use a solid polymer membrane (a thin plastic film) as the electrolyte. This polymer is permeable to protons when it is saturated with water, but it does not conduct electrons. The fuel for the PEMFC is hydrogen and the charge carrier is the hydrogen ion (proton). At the anode, the hydrogen molecule is split into hydrogen ions (protons) and electrons. The hydrogen ions permeate across the electrolyte to the cathode while the electrons flow through an external circuit and produce electric power. Oxygen, usually in the form of air, is supplied to the cathode and combines with the electrons and the hydrogen ions to produce water. The reactions at the electrodes are as follows: Anode Reactions: 2H2 => 4H+ + 4e- Cathode Reactions: O2 + 4H+ + 4e- => 2 H2O Overall Cell Reactions: 2H2 + O2 => 2 H2O

Proton exchange membrane fuel cells

In the archetypical hydrogenoxygen proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) design, a proton-conducting polymer membrane, (the electrolyte), separates the anode and cathode sides. This was called a "solid polymer electrolyte fuel cell" (SPEFC) in the early 1970s, before the proton exchange mechanism was well-understood. (Notice that "polymer electrolyte membrane" and "proton exchange mechanism" result in the same acronym.) On the anode side, hydrogen diffuses to the anode catalyst where it later dissociates into protons and electrons. These protons often react with oxidants causing them to become what is commonly referred to as multi-facilitated proton membranes. The protons are conducted through the membrane to the cathode, but the electrons are forced to travel in an external circuit (supplying power) because the membrane is electrically insulating. On the cathode catalyst, oxygen molecules react with the electrons (which have traveled through the external circuit) and protons to form water in this example, the only waste product, either liquid or vapor. In addition to this pure hydrogen type, there are hydrocarbon fuels for fuel cells, including diesel, methanol and chemical hydrides. The waste products with these types of fuel are carbon dioxide and water. The different components of a PEMFC are (i) bipolar plates, (ii) electrodes, (iii) catalyst, (iv) membrane, and (v) the necessary hardwares. The materials used for different parts of the fuel cells differ by type. The bipolar plates may be made of different types of materials, such as, metal, coated metal, graphite, flexible graphite, CC composite, carbon polymer composites etc. The membrane electrode assembly (MEA), is referred as the heart of

the PEMFC and usually made of a proton exchange membrane sandwiched between two catalyst coated carbon papers. Platinum and/or similar type of noble metals are usually used as the catalyst for PEMFC. The electrolyte could be a polymer membrane.

Proton exchange membrane fuel cell design issues

Costs. In 2002, typical fuel cell systems cost US$1000 per kilowatt of electric power output. In 2009, the Department of Energy reported that 80-kW automotive fuel cell system costs in volume production (projected to 500,000 units per year) are $61 per kilowatt. The goal is $35 per kilowatt. In 2008 UTC Power has 400 kW stationary fuel cells for $1,000,000 per 400 kW installed costs. The goal is to reduce the cost in order to compete with current market technologies including gasoline internal combustion engines. Many companies are working on techniques to reduce cost in a variety of ways including reducing the amount of platinum needed in each individual cell. Ballard Power Systems have experiments with a catalyst enhanced with carbon silk which allows a 30% reduction (1 mg/cm to 0.7 mg/cm) in platinum usage without reduction in performance. Monash University, Melbourne uses PEDOT as a cathode. A 2011 . published study documented the first ever metal free electrocatalyst using relatively inexpensive doped carbon nanotubes that are less than 1% the cost of platinum and are of equal or superior performance.

The production costs of the PEM (proton exchange membrane). The Nafion membrane currently costs $566/m. In 2005 Ballard Power Systems announced that its fuel cells will use Solupor, a porous polyethylene film patented by DSM.

Water and air management (in PEMFCs). In this type of fuel cell, the membrane must be hydrated, requiring water to be evaporated at precisely the same rate that it is produced. If water is evaporated too quickly, the membrane dries, resistance across it increases, and eventually it will crack, creating a gas "short circuit" where hydrogen and oxygen combine directly, generating heat that will damage the fuel cell. If the water is evaporated too slowly, the electrodes will flood, preventing the reactants from reaching the catalyst and stopping the reaction. Methods to manage water in cells are being developed like electroosmotic pumps focusing on flow control. Just as in a combustion engine, a steady ratio between the reactant and oxygen is necessary to keep the fuel cell operating efficiently.

Temperature management. The same temperature must be maintained throughout the cell in order to prevent destruction of the cell through thermal loading. This is particularly challenging as the 2H2 + O2 -> 2H2O reaction is highly exothermic, so a large quantity of heat is generated within the fuel cell. Durability, service life, and special requirements for some type of cells. Stationary fuel cell applications typically require more than 40,000 hours of reliable operation at a temperature of -35 C to 40 C (-31 F to 104 F), while automotive fuel cells require a 5,000 hour lifespan (the equivalent of 150,000 miles) under extreme temperatures. Current service life is 7,300 hours under cycling conditions. Automotive engines must also be able to start reliably at -30 C (-22 F) and have a high power to volume ratio (typically 2.5 kW per liter).

Limited carbon monoxide tolerance of some (non-PEDOT) cathodes

Science of polymer exchange membrane fuel cell

A proton exchange membrane fuel cell transforms the chemical energy liberated during the electrochemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen to electrical energy, as opposed to the direct combustion of hydrogen and oxygen gases to produce thermal energy. A stream of hydrogen is delivered to the anode side of the membrane electrode assembly (MEA). At the anode side it is catalytically split into protons and electrons. This oxidation half-cell reaction is represented by: At the Anode:

The newly formed protons permeate through the polymer electrolyte membrane to the cathode side. The electrons travel along an external load circuit to the cathode side of the MEA, thus creating thecurrent output of the fuel cell. Meanwhile, a stream of oxygen is delivered to the cathode side of the MEA. At the cathode side oxygen molecules react with the protons permeating through the polymer electrolyte membrane and the electrons arriving through the external circuit to form water molecules. This reduction half-cell reaction is represented by:

At the Cathode:

Overall reaction:

Polymer electrolyte membrane

To function, the membrane must conduct hydrogen ions (protons) but not electrons as this would in effect "short circuit" the fuel cell. The membrane must also not allow either gas to pass to the other side of the cell, a problem known as gas crossover. Finally, the membrane must be resistant to the reducing environment at the cathode as well as the harsh oxidative environment at the anode. Splitting of the hydrogen molecule is relatively easy by using a platinum catalyst. Unfortunately however, splitting the oxygen molecule is more difficult, and this causes significant electric losses. An appropriate catalyst material for this process has not been

discovered, and platinum is the best option. One promising catalyst that uses far less expensive materialsiron, nitrogen, and carbonhas long been known to promote the necessary reactions, but at rates that are far too slow to be practical. Recently researchers at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) in Quebec have dramatically increased the performance of this type of iron-based catalyst. Their material produces 99 amperes per cubic centimeter at 0.8 volts, a key measurement of catalytic activit. That is 35 times better than the best nonprecious metal catalyst so far, and close to the Department of Energy's goal for fuel-cell catalysts: 130 A/cm3.. It also matches the performance of typical platinum catalysts. The only problem at the moment is its durability because after only 100 hours of testing the reaction rate dropped to half. Another significant source of losses is the resistance of the membrane to proton flow, which is minimized by making it as thin as possible, on the order of 50 . The PEMFC is a prime candidate for vehicle and other mobile applications of all sizes down to mobile phones, because of its compactness. However, the water management is crucial to performance: too much water will flood the membrane, too little will dry it; in both cases, power output will drop. Water management is a very difficult subject in PEM systems, primarily because water in the membrane is attracted toward the cathode of the cell through polarization. A wide variety of solutions for managing the water exist including integration of electroosmotic pumps. Furthermore, the platinum catalyst on the membrane is easily poisoned by carbon monoxide (no more than one part per million is usually acceptable) and the membrane is sensitive to things like metal ions, which can be introduced by corrosion of metallic bipolar plates, metallic components in the fuel cell system or from contaminants in the fuel/oxidant. PEM systems that use reformed methanol were proposed, as in Daimler Chrysler Necar 5; reforming methanol, i.e. making it react to obtain hydrogen, is however a very complicated process, that requires also purification from the carbon monoxide the reaction produces. A platinum-ruthenium catalyst is necessary as some carbon monoxide will unavoidably reach the membrane. The level should not exceed 10 parts per million. Furthermore, the start-up times of such a reformer reactor are of about half an hour. Alternatively, methanol, and some other biofuels can be fed to a PEM fuel cell directly without being reformed, thus making a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC). These devices operate with limited success. The most commonly used membrane is Nafion by DuPont, which relies on liquid water humidification of the membrane to transport protons. This implies that it is not feasible to use temperatures above 80 to 90 C, since the membrane would dry. Other, more recent membrane types, based on Polybenzimidazole (PBI) OR phosphoric acid, can reach up to 220 C without using any water management: higher temperature allow for better efficiencies, power densities, ease of cooling (because of larger allowable temperature differences),

reduced sensitivity to carbon monoxide poisoning and better controllability (because of absence of water management issues in the membrane); however, these recent types are not as common. Efficiencies of PEMs are in the range of 4060% higher heating value of hydrogen (HHV)

Catalyst research
Much of the current research on catalysts for PEM fuel cells can be classified as having one of two main objectives: 1) to obtain higher catalytic activity than the standard carbon-supported platinum particle catalysts used in current PEM fuel cells or 2) to reduce the poisoning of PEM fuel cell catalysts by impurity gases. Examples of these two approaches are given in the following sections.

1) Increasing catalytic activity

As mentioned above, platinum is by far the most effective element used for PEM fuel cell catalysts, and nearly all current PEM fuel cells use platinum particles on porous carbon supports to catalyze both hydrogen oxidation and oxygen reduction. However, due to their high cost, current Pt/C catalysts are not feasible for commercialization. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that platinum-based catalysts will need to use roughly four times less platinum than is used in current PEM fuel cell designs in order to represent a realistic alternative to internal combustion engines.Consequently, one main goal of catalyst design for PEM fuel cells is to increase the catalytic activity of platinum by a factor of four so that only one-fourth as much of the precious metal is necessary to achieve similar performance. One method of increasing the performance of platinum catalysts is to optimize the size and shape of the platinum particles. Decreasing the particles size alone increases the total surface area of catalyst available to participate in reactions per volume of platinum used, but recent studies have demonstrated additional ways to make further improvements to catalytic performance. For example, one study reports that high-index facets of platinum nanoparticles (that is Miller indexes with large integers, such as Pt (730)) provide a greater density of reactive sites for oxygen reduction than typical platinum nanoparticles. A second method of increasing the catalytic activity of platinum is to alloy it with other metals. For example, it was recently shown that the Pt3Ni(111) surface has a higher oxygen reduction activity than pure Pt(111) by a factor of ten. The authors attribute this dramatic performance increase to modifications to the electronic structure of the surface, reducing its tendency to bond to oxygen-containing ionic species present in PEM fuel cells and hence increasing the number of available sites for oxygen adsorption and reduction.

2) Reducing poisoning
The other popular approach to improving catalyst performance is to reduce its sensitivity to impurities in the fuel source, especially carbon monoxide (CO). Presently, pure hydrogen gas is not economical to mass-produce by electrolysis or any other means. Instead, hydrogen gas is produced by steam reforming light hydrocarbons, a process which produces a mixture of gasses that also contains CO (13%), CO2 (1925%), and N2 (25%). Even tens of parts per million of CO can poison a pure platinum catalyst, so increasing platinums resistance to CO is an active area of research. For example, one study reported that cube-shaped platinum nanoparticles with (100) faces displayed a fourfold increase in oxygen reduction activity compared to randomly faceted platinum nanoparticles of similar size. The authors concluded that the (111) facets of the randomly shaped nanoparticles bonded more strongly to sulfate ions than the (100) facets, reducing the number of catalytic sites open to oxygen molecules. The nanocubes they synthesized, in contrast, had almost exclusively (100) facets, which are known to interact with sulfate more weakly. As a result, a greater fraction of the surface area of those particles was available for the reduction of oxygen, boosting the catalysts oxygen reduction activity. In addition, researchers have been investigating ways of reducing the CO content of hydrogen fuel before it enters a fuel cell as a possible way to avoid poisoning the catalysts. One recent study revealed that ruthenium-platinum core-shell nanoparticles are particularly effective at oxidizing CO to form CO2, a much less harmful fuel contaminant.The mechanism that produces this effect is conceptually similar to that described for Pt3Ni above: the ruthenium core of the particle alters the electronic structure of the platinum surface, rendering it better able to catalyze the oxidation of CO.

PEM Fuel Cell Applications

PEM cells may have a mixed record in space, but several companies have been testing the cells in more down-to-earth vehicles. In 1995, Ballard Systems tested PEM cells in buses in Vancouver and Chicago and later in experimental vehicles made by DaimlerChrysler. PEM cells have also supplied power to unmanned blimps called aerostats and to sonobuoys, which are nautical buoys that generate and receive sonar signals. A Ballard fuel cell powers a laptop computer. Early in 2000, AeroVironment selected PEM technology to provide nighttime power for its solar-powered Helios longduration aircraft. The goal was to make an unpiloted aircraft that could fly continuously for up to six months by using photovoltaic panels during the day to run electric motors and electrolyze water. At night, the fuel cell was to run the motors by converting the hydrogen and oxygen back into water. Several test flights were made with and without a fuel cell from 2001 to 2003.

Automotive research has taken on new urgency as air quality regulations grow steadily stricter, particularly in California. Energy Partners and the U. S. Department of Energy's Office of Advanced Automotive Technologies provided two 20 kw fuel cell stacks to Virginia Tech and Texas Tech universities to evaluate performance in hybrid electric cars. Major automakers like Ford and Volkswagen are also testing PEM vehicles. Since the mid-1980s, PEM development has included stationary The Helios research power applications. In 1989, Ballard Systems introduced a 5 kw aircraft takes to the air. hydrogen and air PEM stack. Two years later, GPU and Ballard began operating a 250 kw plant at Crane Naval Air Station in Indiana. One of the more publicized demonstrations has been Plug Power's PEM unit in Albany, New York, which began powering a home in June 1998. Promoted by the company as the "first permanent home installation," the 5 kw power plant helped the company to make significant partnerships with both GE and Detroit Edison. These partners had hoped to market a residential fuel cell during 2002, however those plans have been postponed.

Methanol fuel cell

Fig:- Fuel cell NASA

Direct-methanol fuel cells or DMFCs are a subcategory of proton-exchange fuel cells in which methanol is used as the fuel. Their main advantages are the ease of transport of methanol, an energy-dense yet reasonably stable liquid at all environmental conditions, and the lack of complex steam reforming(used to generate Hydrogen from fossil fuels) operations. Efficiency is presently quite low for these cells, so they are targeted especially to portable applications, where energy and power density are more important than efficiency.

Fuel cells have been around for over 150 years. Sir William Robert Grove conceived the first fuel cell In 1839. Sir Grove was a Welsh gentleman, scientist and judge. His fuel cell used porous platinum electrodes and sulfuric acid as the electrolyte bath. His mixture of hydrogen and oxygen in the presence of an electrolyte produced electricity and water. Unfortunately, his invention didn't produce enough electricity to be useful. In 1889, Ludwig Mond and his assistant Charles Langer, attempted to build a working fuel cell using air and industrial coal gas. Around that time, a fuel cell constructed by William White Jaques (who incidentally coined the term fuel cell), substituted phosphoric acid in the electrolyte bath. In the 1920s, fuel cell research in Germany paved the way to the development of the carbonate cycle and solid oxide fuel cells of today. In 1932, Dr. Francis T. Bacon made a significant contribution to fuel research. Early cell designers used porous platinum electrodes and sulfuric acid as the electrolyte bath. Using platinum was expensive and using sulfuric acid was corrosive. Bacon used an inexpensive nickel electrode and a less corrosive alkaline electrolyte. It took Bacon until 1959 to perfect his design and demonstrated a five-kilowatt fuel cell that could power a welding machine. Francis T. Bacon, a direct descendent of the other well known Francis Bacon, named his famous fuel cell design the "Bacon Cell." In October of 1959, Harry Karl Ihrig, an engineer for the Allis - Chalmers Manufacturing Company, demonstrated a 20-horsepower tractor that was the first vehicle ever powered by a fuel cell. During the early 1960s, General Electric produced the fuel-cell-based electrical power system for NASA's Gemini and Apollo space capsules. General Electric used the principles found in the "Bacon Cell" as the basis of its design. Today, the Space Shuttle's electricity is provided by fuel cells, and the same fuel cells provide drinking water for the crew. Dr. Lawrence H. DuBois of the U.S. Department of Defense and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) envisioned the development of a fuel cell that could operate on various types of liquid hydrocarbons (methanol, ethanol, etc.,). He called on Dr. Surya Prakash a world-renowned super acid specialist and Nobel laureate Dr. George A. Olah, both of the University of Southern California's Loker Hydrocarbon Institute to invent such a fuel cell. USC, in a collaborative effort with Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) / California Institute of Technology (Caltech) proceeded to invent the direct oxidation of liquid hydrocarbons subsequently coined as DMFC, Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Technology.

DTI acquired the exclusive worldwide license for Direct Oxidation of Liquid Hydrocarbons, DMFC Technology. DTI's President and CEO, Todd Marsh, saw the future impact that a clean alternative to fossil fuels was being born and offered to steward this technology and help commercialize it. DMFC technology has become widely accepted as a viable fuel cell technology that offers itself to many applications.

In 1990 superacid specialist Dr. Surya Prakash, and Nobel laureate Dr. George A. Olah, both of the University of Southern California's Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute, invented a fuel cell that would directly convert methanol to electricity. USC, in a collaborative effort with Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) proceeded to invent the direct oxidation of liquid hydrocarbons subsequently coined as DMFC, Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Technology. Others were involved in the invention, including California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and DTI Energy, Inc. Some advances in DMFC have been: bringing down the fuel crossover, miniaturizing the cell for consumer and military products, ceramic plates, carbon nanotubes, porous silicon layers and oxidation reduction.

what is methanol?
Methanol is a liquid from -97.0 C to 64.7 C at atmospheric pressure. The energy density of methanol is an order of magnitude greater than even highly compressed hydrogen, and 15 times higher thanLithium-ion batteries. Methanol is toxic and flammable. However, the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) voted in November 2005 to allow passengers to carry and use micro fuel cells and methanol fuel cartridges when aboard airplanes to power laptop computers and other consumer electronic devices. On September 24, 2007, the US Department of Transportation issued a proposal to allow airline passengers to carry fuel cell cartridges on board. The Department of Transportation issued a final ruling on April 30, 2008, permitting passengers and crew to carry an approved fuel cell with an installed methanol cartridge and up to two additional spare cartridges. It is worth noting that 200 ml maximum methanol cartridge volume allowed in the final ruling is double the 100 ml limit on liquids allowed by the Transportation Security Administration in carry-on bags.

Reaction:The DMFC relies upon the oxidation of methanol on a catalyst layer to form carbon dioxie. Water is consumed at the anode and is produced at the cathode. Protons (H+) are transported across the proton exchange membrane - often made from Nafion - to the cathode where they react with oxygen to produce water. Electrons are transported through an external circuit from anode to cathode, providing power to connected devices.

The half-reactions are:




Overall reaction
redox reaction










of platinum and ruthenium particles, and lose protons until carbon dioxide is formed. As water is consumed at the anode in the reaction, pure methanol cannot be used without provision of water via either passive transport such as back diffusion (osmosis), or active transport such as pumping. The need for water limits the energy density of the fuel. Currently, platinum is used as a catalyst for both half-reactions. This contributes to the loss of cell voltage potential, as any methanol that is present in the cathode chamber will oxidize. If another catalyst could be found for the reduction of oxygen, the problem of methanol crossover would likely be significantly lessened. Furthermore, platinum is very expensive and contributes to the high cost per kilowatt of these cells. During the methanol oxidation reaction carbon monoxide (CO) is formed, which strongly adsorbs onto the platinum catalyst, reducing the surface area and thus the performance of the cell. The addition of another components, such as ruthenium or gold, to the catalyst tends to ameliorate this problem because, according to the most well-established theory in the field, these catalysts oxidize water to yield OH radicals: H2O OH + H+ + e-. The OH species from the oxidized water molecule oxidizes CO to produce CO2 which can then be released as a gas: CO + OH CO2 + H+ + e-. Using these OH groups in the half reactions, they are also expressed as:
Equation Anode



Overall reaction
redox reaction

How Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFC) work?

A Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) works by creating thermodynamic potential out of the chemical reaction between methanol and air in a specific manner. Without the aid of moving parts, Direct Methanol Fuel Cells produce electricity through an electrochemical process, without combustion and without the need to reform the fuel stock into hydrogen or expose hydrogen in a gaseous state to the Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM). The advantage of a Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) over a tradition battery is that a Direct Methanol Fuel Cell can simply be refilled with more fuel when it runs out. A fuel cell is an energyproducing device while a battery is an energy- storing device. Direct Methanol Fuel Cells only require externally added fuel to run. As long as fuel and air are supplied to the DMFC, it will continue to produce power. It does not need to be recharged.

The Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Process:The thermodynamic potential is created through the use of a polymer electrolyte membrane that allows only certain chemical species to pass through it. On one side of this membrane, a methanol and water mixture is fed to an anode catalyst that separates the methanol molecule into hydrogen atoms and carbon dioxide. The separated hydrogen atoms are then typically stripped of their electron, and passed through the membrane to the cathode side of the cell. At the cathode catalyst, the protons (hydrogen atoms without an electron) react with the oxygen in air to form water minus an electron. By connecting a conductive wire from the anode to the cathode side, the electrons stripped from the hydrogen atoms on the anode side can travel to the cathode side and combine with the electron deficient species. From a thermodynamic perspective, the electrons "want" to travel to the cathode side a specific "amount," that can be quantified as the open circuit voltage. The open circuit voltage is measured with a voltmeter across the cell set to an extremely high resistance. The thermodynamic favoring of reacting the methanol and O 2 into carbon dioxide and water forces a difference in energy to build across the membrane until the system reaches equilibrium. Once this level is reached the components stop reacting, and no additional useful energy is produced. Useful energy is produced by lowering the voltage across the membrane below the equilibrium value. This is done by placing a resistance on the wire connecting the two sides that is weak enough that current can flow through it. The smaller the voltage difference that is imposed on the fuel cell in this manner, the more current is produced until a proton transport rate limit is reached, after which no additional energy is produced. The overall reaction occurring in the DMFC is the same as that for the direct combustion of methanol, i.e; CH 3 OH + 3/2O 2 CO 2 + 2H 2 O

Byproducts of DMFCs
The job of the fuel cell is to convert the chemical energy of a fuel directly into electrical current without burning it. Unlike internal combustion engines there is no combustion process; therefore no airborne pollutants are generated. The only "exhaust" or by-product of this exchange is pure water and some carbon dioxide (CO 2 ). Unlike other fuel cell technologies, DMFC (Direct Methanol Fuel Cell) technology produces no carbon monoxide or other particulates such as oxides of nitrogen (NOX), oxides of sulfur (SOX) or reactive organic gases (ROG). In lay terms, the total approximate amount of carbon dioxide is half of what is currently generated by combustion engines. Thus, the effect on our planet of utilizing the DMFC and methanol for energy production is profound.

Advantages of DMFC over other fuel cells

In terms of the amount of electricity generated, a Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) can currently generate 300-500 milliwatts per centimeter squared. The area of the cell size and the number of cells stacked together will provide the necessary power generation for whatever the watt and kilowatt needs are for vehicular and stationary applications. The liquid fuel design of Direct Methanol Fuel Cells has numerous system-level advantages over the gas fuel or reformer design fuel cells. A Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC):

Eliminates the fuel vaporizer or "reformer" Eliminates high pressures and temperatures. DMFC operate effectively at room temperature and pressures under 20 psi. Eliminates the complex water and thermal management systems that are needed to maintain the equilibrium of temperature and pressures in the reformer type fuel cells.

This in turn,

Eliminates the need for inner heating and cooling plates. Eliminates the humidification process of reformer technology without which membranes dry up and crack. The liquid state of Direct Methanol Fuel Cells provides a constant bath for the membranes.

Significantly lowers system size and weight, due in large part to the elimination of the reformer, a costly, complex space hog. DMFCs use bi-plates that can be made out of non-metallic lightweight, flexible materials that are significantly lower in cost than metallic materials.

Application:1. endless possibilities for DMFC Direct Methanol Fuel Cell technology (DMFC) can be applied in a variety of products. Obviously, our environment would benefit from fuel cell powered cars and buses. There is an equal or greater demand for clean efficient energy in many other applications. Lawnmowers, weed whips, chain saws, snow and leaf blowers, and jet skis can all be converted to DMFC, Direct Methanol Fuel Cell technology. Marine applications such as boats, tankers, luxury liners and at-sea platforms have significant power needs. Micro fuel cells, using DMFC, Direct Methanol Fuel Cell technology, in cellular phones, laptop computers and portable electronics will provide longer usability. Wastewater treatment plants and landfills are using direct methanol fuel cells to convert the methane gas they produce into electricity. The possibilities are endless. 2. stationary applications of DMFC The opportunities and demand for Direct Methanol Fuel Cells in stationary applications are extraordinary. More than 2500 fuel cell systems have been installed all over the world -- in hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, office buildings, schools, utility power plants, and airport terminals, providing primary or backup power. Every country on Earth has stationary power and consumer electronics needs. Producing immediate stationary, decentralized power by using Direct Methanol Fuel Cell technology for absolutely every electrical need, makes sense not only logistically, but also monetarily. In large-scale building systems, fuel cells can reduce energy costs by 20% to 40% over conventional energy service. Additionally, DMFCs are an excellent choice for backup power needs such as UPS and APU devices. 3. residential applications of DMFC Developing nations need reliable power in their cities, villages, and homes. Direct Methanol Fuel Cells are ideal for power generation, either connected to the electric grid to provide supplemental power and backup assurance for critical areas, or installed as a gridindependent generator for on-site service in areas that are inaccessible by power lines. The average home operates on two to three kilowatts per day for all its electrical needs. The refrigerator runs twenty-four hours per day to prevent food spoilage and uses power accordingly. Small stand-alone, seven to ten kilowatt per hour DMFC generators emit no pollutants as a byproduct and can be used to provide hot water or space heating for a home. 4. transportation applications of DMFC

All the major automotive manufacturers have a fuel cell vehicle either in development or in testing right now. Honda and Toyota have already begun leasing vehicles in California and Japan. Automakers and experts speculate that the DMFC fuel cell vehicles will be widely commercialized by 2010. Direct Methanol Fuel Cell technology, DMFC, is being incorporated into buses, trains, scooters and golf carts on a faster time line. 5. portable power appplications of DMFC Possibly the most wide spread uses of Direct Methanol Fuel Cell technology, DMFC, are in the area of portable power. Also known as Micro Fuel Cells, Direct Methanol Fuel Cells, DMFC, will change the telecommuting world, powering laptops and palm pilots hours longer than batteries and allowing up to a month of talk time on a cellular phone. Other applications for micro DMFC fuel cells include pagers, video recorders, portable power tools, and low power remote devices such as hearing aids, smoke detectors, burglar alarms, hotel locks and meter readers. 6. landfill/wastewater treatment using DMFC Direct Methanol Fuel Cells, DMFC, currently operate at landfills and wastewater treatment plants across the country, proving themselves as a valid technology for reducing emissions and generating power from the methane gas they produce. 7. marine applications of DMFC Luxury liners and tankers can power themselves across the oceans using Direct Methanol Fuel Cell, DMFC, technology to power all their on-ship needs from the "engine room" -which will likely be renamed the "energy room"-- to kitchen, bath, staterooms, laundry rooms and so on. Yachts and fishing boats can have on-board power for personal comforts (hair dryers, a/c and heating) without the dreadful noise and fumes of combustion generators. Furthermore, the use of methanol, a biodegradable fuel, will rescue our oceans from the pollution caused by the dumping of other fuels.

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