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Title: Recovery Act: Advanced Direct Methanol Fuel Cell for Mobile Computing

Abstract

ABSTRACT Project Title: Recovery Act: Advanced Direct Methanol Fuel Cell for Mobile Computing PROJECT OBJECTIVE The objective of the project was to advance portable fuel cell system technology towards the commercial targets of power density, energy density and lifetime. These targets were laid out in the DOE’s R&D roadmap to develop an advanced direct methanol fuel cell power supply that meets commercial entry requirements. Such a power supply will enable mobile computers to operate non-stop, unplugged from the wall power outlet, by using the high energy density of methanol fuel contained in a replaceable fuel cartridge. Specifically this project focused on balance-of-plant component integration and miniaturization, as well as extensive component, subassembly and integrated system durability and validation testing. This design has resulted in a pre-production power supply design and a prototype that meet the rigorous demands of consumer electronic applications. PROJECT TASKS The proposed work plan was designed to meet the project objectives, which corresponded directly with the objectives outlined in the Funding Opportunity Announcement: To engineer the fuel cell balance-of-plant and packaging to meet the needs of consumer electronic systems, specifically at power levels required for mobile computing. UNF used existing balance-of-plant component technologies developed under its currentmore » US Army CERDEC project, as well as a previous DOE project completed by PolyFuel, to further refine them to both miniaturize and integrate their functionality to increase the system power density and energy density. Benefits of UNF’s novel passive water recycling MEA (membrane electrode assembly) and the simplified system architecture it enabled formed the foundation of the design approach. The package design was hardened to address orientation independence, shock, vibration, and environmental requirements. Fuel cartridge and fuel subsystems were improved to ensure effective fuel containment. PROJECT OVERVIEW The University of North Florida (UNF), with project partner the University of Florida, recently completed the Department of Energy (DOE) project entitled “Advanced Direct Methanol Fuel Cell for Mobile Computing”. The primary objective of the project was to advance portable fuel cell system technology towards the commercial targets as laid out in the DOE R&D roadmap by developing a 20-watt, direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC), portable power supply based on the UNF innovative “passive water recovery” MEA. Extensive component, sub-system, and system development and testing was undertaken to meet the rigorous demands of the consumer electronic application. Numerous brassboard (nonpackaged) systems were developed to optimize the integration process and facilitating control algorithm development. The culmination of the development effort was a fully-integrated, DMFC, power supply (referred to as DP4). The project goals were 40 W/kg for specific power, 55 W/l for power density, and 575 Whr/l for energy density. It should be noted that the specific power and power density were for the power section only, and did not include the hybrid battery. The energy density is based on three, 200 ml, fuel cartridges, and also did not include the hybrid battery. The results show that the DP4 system configured without the methanol concentration sensor exceeded all performance goals, achieving 41.5 W/kg for specific power, 55.3 W/l for power density, and 623 Whr/l for energy density. During the project, the DOE revised its technical targets, and the definition of many of these targets, for the portable power application. With this revision, specific power, power density, specific energy (Whr/kg), and energy density are based on the total system, including fuel tank, fuel, and hybridization battery. Fuel capacity is not defined, but the same value is required for all calculations. Test data showed that the DP4 exceeded all 2011 Technical Status values; for example, the DP4 energy density was 373 Whr/l versus the DOE 2011 status of 200 Whr/l. For the DOE 2013 Technical Goals, the operation time was increased from 10 hours to 14.3 hours. Under these conditions, the DP4 closely approached or surpassed the technical targets; for example, the DP4 achieved 468 Whr/l versus the goal of 500 Whr/l. Thus, UNF has successfully met the project goals. A fully-operational, 20-watt DMFC power supply was developed based on the UNF passive water recovery MEA. The power supply meets the project performance goals and advances portable power technology towards the commercialization targets set by the DOE.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. University of North Florida
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
University of North Florida
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1091798
Report Number(s):
DOE/EE0000476
DOE Contract Number:
EE0000476
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
08 HYDROGEN; Fuel cell, Hydrogen

Citation Formats

Fletcher, James H., Cox, Philip, Harrington, William J, and Campbell, Joseph L. Recovery Act: Advanced Direct Methanol Fuel Cell for Mobile Computing. United States: N. p., 2013. Web. doi:10.2172/1091798.
Fletcher, James H., Cox, Philip, Harrington, William J, & Campbell, Joseph L. Recovery Act: Advanced Direct Methanol Fuel Cell for Mobile Computing. United States. doi:10.2172/1091798.
Fletcher, James H., Cox, Philip, Harrington, William J, and Campbell, Joseph L. 2013. "Recovery Act: Advanced Direct Methanol Fuel Cell for Mobile Computing". United States. doi:10.2172/1091798. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1091798.
@article{osti_1091798,
title = {Recovery Act: Advanced Direct Methanol Fuel Cell for Mobile Computing},
author = {Fletcher, James H. and Cox, Philip and Harrington, William J and Campbell, Joseph L},
abstractNote = {ABSTRACT Project Title: Recovery Act: Advanced Direct Methanol Fuel Cell for Mobile Computing PROJECT OBJECTIVE The objective of the project was to advance portable fuel cell system technology towards the commercial targets of power density, energy density and lifetime. These targets were laid out in the DOE’s R&D roadmap to develop an advanced direct methanol fuel cell power supply that meets commercial entry requirements. Such a power supply will enable mobile computers to operate non-stop, unplugged from the wall power outlet, by using the high energy density of methanol fuel contained in a replaceable fuel cartridge. Specifically this project focused on balance-of-plant component integration and miniaturization, as well as extensive component, subassembly and integrated system durability and validation testing. This design has resulted in a pre-production power supply design and a prototype that meet the rigorous demands of consumer electronic applications. PROJECT TASKS The proposed work plan was designed to meet the project objectives, which corresponded directly with the objectives outlined in the Funding Opportunity Announcement: To engineer the fuel cell balance-of-plant and packaging to meet the needs of consumer electronic systems, specifically at power levels required for mobile computing. UNF used existing balance-of-plant component technologies developed under its current US Army CERDEC project, as well as a previous DOE project completed by PolyFuel, to further refine them to both miniaturize and integrate their functionality to increase the system power density and energy density. Benefits of UNF’s novel passive water recycling MEA (membrane electrode assembly) and the simplified system architecture it enabled formed the foundation of the design approach. The package design was hardened to address orientation independence, shock, vibration, and environmental requirements. Fuel cartridge and fuel subsystems were improved to ensure effective fuel containment. PROJECT OVERVIEW The University of North Florida (UNF), with project partner the University of Florida, recently completed the Department of Energy (DOE) project entitled “Advanced Direct Methanol Fuel Cell for Mobile Computing”. The primary objective of the project was to advance portable fuel cell system technology towards the commercial targets as laid out in the DOE R&D roadmap by developing a 20-watt, direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC), portable power supply based on the UNF innovative “passive water recovery” MEA. Extensive component, sub-system, and system development and testing was undertaken to meet the rigorous demands of the consumer electronic application. Numerous brassboard (nonpackaged) systems were developed to optimize the integration process and facilitating control algorithm development. The culmination of the development effort was a fully-integrated, DMFC, power supply (referred to as DP4). The project goals were 40 W/kg for specific power, 55 W/l for power density, and 575 Whr/l for energy density. It should be noted that the specific power and power density were for the power section only, and did not include the hybrid battery. The energy density is based on three, 200 ml, fuel cartridges, and also did not include the hybrid battery. The results show that the DP4 system configured without the methanol concentration sensor exceeded all performance goals, achieving 41.5 W/kg for specific power, 55.3 W/l for power density, and 623 Whr/l for energy density. During the project, the DOE revised its technical targets, and the definition of many of these targets, for the portable power application. With this revision, specific power, power density, specific energy (Whr/kg), and energy density are based on the total system, including fuel tank, fuel, and hybridization battery. Fuel capacity is not defined, but the same value is required for all calculations. Test data showed that the DP4 exceeded all 2011 Technical Status values; for example, the DP4 energy density was 373 Whr/l versus the DOE 2011 status of 200 Whr/l. For the DOE 2013 Technical Goals, the operation time was increased from 10 hours to 14.3 hours. Under these conditions, the DP4 closely approached or surpassed the technical targets; for example, the DP4 achieved 468 Whr/l versus the goal of 500 Whr/l. Thus, UNF has successfully met the project goals. A fully-operational, 20-watt DMFC power supply was developed based on the UNF passive water recovery MEA. The power supply meets the project performance goals and advances portable power technology towards the commercialization targets set by the DOE.},
doi = {10.2172/1091798},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = 2013,
month = 9
}

Technical Report:

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  • PolyFuel has developed state-of-the-art portable fuel cell technology for the portable computing market. A novel approach to passive water recycling within the MEA has led to significant system simplification and size reduction. Miniature stack technology with very high area utilization and minimalist seals has been developed. A highly integrated balance of plant with very low parasitic losses has been constructed around the new stack design. Demonstration prototype systems integrated with laptop computers have been shown in recent months to leading OEM computer manufacturers. PolyFuel intends to provide this technology to its customers as a reference design as a means ofmore » accelerating the commercialization of portable fuel cell technology. The primary goal of the project was to match the energy density of a commercial lithium ion battery for laptop computers. PolyFuel made large strides against this goal and has now demonstrated 270 Wh/liter compared with lithium ion energy densities of 300 Wh/liter. Further, more incremental, improvements in energy density are envisioned with an additional 20-30% gains possible in each of the next two years given further research and development.« less
  • Aqueous potassium carbonate-potassium bicarbonate solutions were evaluated as electrolytes for the direct oxidation of methanol. The potassium carbonate-potassium bicarbonate electrolyte was examined at temperatures from 80 to 175/sup 0/C and steam pressures up to 6 atmospheres. Pt/Ni, Pt/MoS/sub 2/, Pt/Fe/sub 2/O/sub 3/, Pt/Ru and Pt/Sn were identified as potential catalysts for the direct oxidation of methanol in a potassium carbonate-potassium bicarbonate electrolyte. Evaluation of these materials in half cells at temperatures of 175/sup 0/C indicated potential stability problems with long term use. A preliminary evaluation of oxygen reduction in the potassium carbonate-potassium bicarbonate electrolyte showed that the performance of amore » methanol-air fuel cell would be limited by the activity of the cathode. 29 figs.« less
  • The goal of the program was an advanced proton-exchange membrane (PEM) for use as the electrolyte in a liquid feed direct methanol fuel cell which provides reduced methanol crossover while simultaneously providing high conductivity and low membrane water content. The approach was to use a membrane containing precross-linked fluorinated base polymer films and subsequently to graft the base film with selected materials. Over 80 different membranes were prepared. The rate of methanol crossover through the advanced membranes was reduced 90%. A 5-cell stack provided stable performance over a 100-hour life test. Preliminary cost estimates predicted a manufacturing cost at $4more » to $9 per kW.« less
  • Fuel cell technology continues to receive considerable attention as a potential replacement for fossil fuels as a primary source of terrestrial power. Ideally, such power systems would operate at relatively low temperatures (< 100{degrees}C) which suggests strongly the use of cell technology based upon the proton exchange membrane (PEM). Without question, hydrogen is a very desirable fuel choice for these types of systems, because of its high energy density. However, the difficulties associated with the production and routine handling of hydrogen limit severely its commercial use at present. The direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) is a particularly attractive alternative tomore » the use of the hydrogen/oxygen cell. Although not as high as hydrogen, the energy density of methanol is the highest among the organic fuels. Furthermore, because of the similarity in liquid handling requirements between methanol and gasoline, a significant portion of the infrastructure necessary for the marketing and distribution of the fuel is already in place. Other inherent attributes of the DMFC which include rapid start-up and operation with little or no emission or noise signature have led to an intense DMFC research effort over the past twenty years and, indeed, the DMFC has even been referred to as {open_quotes}the electrochemist`s dream{close_quotes}.« less
  • Direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC) using polymer electrolyte membrane are promising candidate for application of portable power sources and transportation applications because they do not require any fuel processing equipment and can be operated at low temperature of 60{degrees}C - 130{degrees}C. Elimination of the fuel processor results in simpler design, higher operation reliability, lower weight volume, and lower capital and operating cost. However, methanol as a fuel is relatively electrochemical inert, so that kinetics of the methanol oxidation is too slow. Platinum and Pt-based binary alloy electrodes have been extensively studied for methanol electro-oxidation in acid electrolyte at ambient andmore » elevated temperatures. Particularly, unsupported carbon Pt-Ru catalyst was found to be superior to the anode of DMFC using a proton exchange membrane electrolyte (Nafion). The objective of this study is to develop the high performance DNTC. This paper summarizes the results from half cell and single cell tests, which focus on the electrode manufacturing process, catalyst selection, and operating conditions of single cell such as methanol concentration, temperature and pressure.« less