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  Fuelcell: Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFC)

Introduction l

Direct Methanol l

Alkaline l

Proton Exchange Memb. l

Solid Oxide l

Molten Carbonate l

Phosphoric Acid l



This type of fuel cell is based on solid polymer technology as the PEMFC; it uses methanol directly as a fuel instead of hydrogen.

DMFC can be very compact and are thus considered promising for consumer electronics such as laptops and mobile phones.

Also, a key advantage is that methanol is a liquid fuel, much easier to store and handle than hydrogen; also, its energy density per unit of volume is higher than that of compressed hydrogen.



On the other hand, this type of cell has limitations related to the lower electrochemical activity of the methanol as compared to hydrogen, which results in lower cell voltages.

In addition, there is often an issue of methanol permeation through the membrane: this limits efficiency and can cause corrosion and exhaust gas problems on the cathode side.

Nevertheless, the direct methanol fuel cell is an interesting proposition and a number of research groups are investigating it, including Siemens in Germany, the University of Newcastle in the UK and the Argonne National Laboratory in France.

Finally, one important drawback is methanol high toxicity to humans, both by inhalation and ingestion, in addition to skin contact.

here are also efforts to develop a SOFC working at lower temperature (500°C instead of 800 ºC-1000ºC ) that would also allow the use methanol directly. The idea is still young but promising. Imperial College in London is active in this area.

For further information contact David Hart (email: firstname.lastname@e4tech.com) from E4tech


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