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Introduction of fuel cell:A fuel cell is an electrochemical device (a galvanic cell) which converts free energy of a chemical reaction into electrical energy (electricity); by product depends upon fuel used.

Types of Fuel Cell:PEMFC- Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell. DMFC- Direct Methanol Fuel Cell. AFC - Alkaline Fuel Cell. ( for space program for producing electricity and drinking water for austronaughts.) PAFC - Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell. MCFC- Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell. SOFC - Solid Oxide Fuel Cell.

DISADVANTAGES OF THESE FUEL CELL:PEMFC For a fuel cell system using pure hydrogen as fuel, high hydrogen utilization operation is required because the exhausted hydrogen from the fuel cell is not used as a heat source for a reformer. While the hydrogen utilization is very high, any minor imbalance in the distributed flow causes a shortage of hydrogen gas. DMFC Methanol is toxic so it creates bad effect on human body. Methanol fuel cells use platinum in large quantities as a catalyst.

Platinum is a precious metal, thus making it expensive to run them. SOFC The high temperatures and the electrolyte chemistry has disadvantages. The high temperature requires significant time to reach operating conditions and responds slowly to changing power demands. MCFC The carbonate electrolytes cause electrode corrosion problems. Furthermore, since CO2 is consumed at the anode and transferred to the cathode, introduction of CO2 and its control in air stream becomes an issue for achieving optimum performance that is not present in any other fuel cell. AFC Alkaline fuel cells allow the use of non precious metal catalysts because Of facile oxygen reduction kinetics at high pH conditions, but suffer from the problem of liquid electrolyte management and electrolyte degradation


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Ethanol is the most promising one because it is a safe molecule comparatively to methanol. As a liquid it is easier to be stored and handled when comparing to hydrogen. Moreover, ethanol has a high theoretical mass energy(8 kWh/kg for ethanol versus 6.1 kWh/kg for methanol) It is pollution free; the CO2 generated entered the carbon cycle again. High energy density of ethanol (6.1KWh/litre) makes it more feasible. Low cost (1.3$ per gallon) of ethanol makes it more feasible. Large scale production of ethanol is possible from agricultural waste. Eco-friendly, since no combustion reaction occurs. It is useful for mobile & stationary applications (viz. for vehicles and in villages).

Objective:To break the C-C bond of Ethanol and complete oxidation of ethanol into CO2 in fuel cell and to avoid the formation of acetic acid (AA) by promoting the C-C breaking route from the early adsorption steps.

Description:Direct alcohol fuel cell (DAFC) appears to be the most promising system because either methanol in a DMFC or ethanol in a DEFC is not reformed into hydrogen gas but is oxidized directly in the cell however, DEFCs suffer from difficulties associated with the complete oxidation of ethanol to CO2. The catalytic challenge is the breaking of C-C bond, which is not easily achieved at low temperatures. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to increase the effective surface area of the catalysts, that is, to increase the surface contact between the catalyst, the electronic conductor (carbon), the electrolyte (Nafion) and the reactant (ethanol). The electrochemical reaction occurs in this active part of the electrodes and thus the performances depend greatly on the kinetics of interfacial phenomena. Usually, electrodes for PEMFCs (polymer exchange membrane fuel cells) are constituted of black carbon powder which acts as a catalyst support and solid electrolyte such as Nafion. In this case, to increase the performance of the electrodes (i.e. the true surface area of the catalyst) one needs either to increase the thickness of the active layer, for a given catalyst loading, or to increase the amount of catalyst in the catalytic powder. Increasing the thickness of the active layer leads to a decrease in the diffusion rate of the reactant towards the catalytic sites, whereas increasing the weight loading generally leads to an increase in the particle size of the catalysts, thus decreasing their efficiency. Moreover, the most used methods of preparation of carbon supported catalysts by impregnation method.

Catalyst prepared for complete oxidation of ethanol
       PtSnIr/C PtRuIr/C PtSnOs/C PtSnHf/C PtSnTa/C PtRuTa/C PtRuHf/C

Basis of selection of Precursor:In order to increase the electro catalyst activity towards oxidation of ethanol Platinum was often modified with other metals like Ru . Addition of Tin increases the activity of platinum towards oxidation of ethanol.

Catalyst Preparation Method:The catalyst was prepared by impregnation method. The carbon black powder (Vulcan XC-72) used as a support for the catalyst. The carbon black was preheated in ultra-sonicated bath to disperse the C-particles. The precursor (H2PtCl6 or IrCl3·xH2O with 0.1 mol dm-3 solution dissolved in Aldrich) is taken in a beaker in the ratio of 100(40-40-20). Propanol is added in the precursor to dissolve the particles and sonicated it in ultra-sonicated bath for 4-5 hours. After 4-5 hours both (precursor & C-powder) are mixed and then placed it in magnetic stirring bath for one hour till convection starts in the slurry. The slurry was left for drying in oven till it dry. The catalyst powder was scrapped from beaker and was ground in agate-mortar. Then from TPR (Temperature Programmed Reduction) hydro-choric acid comes out as a fumes and catalyst is taken out. After this procedure prepared catalyst is sent for TEM (Temp. Electron Microscopy) , SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy) & XRD (X-ray Diffraction, for particle size determination) analysis.

Results & Discussion:After several analysis of catalyst like TEM, XRD, CV analysis it is found that addition of Sn , Ru , Ir increases the activity of catalyst as well as trimetallic catalyst perform better than bi-metallic catalyst. Also efficiency of ethanol fuel cell increases.

References: A new trend in fuel cell by S. Basu  Journal of Applied Electrochemistry by F. Vigier , C. Coetaneous , A. Perrard , E.M. Belgsir & C. Lamy.  Wikipedia encyclopedia. ** Analysis of catalyst is remain to do.