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Title: Materials for direct methanol fuel cells: inhibition of methanol crossover using novel membrane electrode assemblies
Author: Dawson, Craig
ISNI:       0000 0004 2714 010X
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis focuses on developing an alternative system for membrane electrode assembly (MEA) formation to use with a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC). The approach involves incorporating inorganic fillers with an industry standard Nafion polymer as part of a methanol resistant composite barrier layer at the anode/membrane interface of MEA featuring Nafion 117 membranes. This procedure is used to reduce the fuel cell losses related to the crossover of un-oxidised methanol through the membrane and prevent its subsequent reaction at the cathode. The inorganic filler used within this study was mordenite that has Si/Al ratio of 5 and by incorporating this into the barrier layer a superior DMFC performance has been achieved in comparison to a standard MEA featuring a Nafion 117 membrane. The voltage, current density and power density used as a measure of DMFC performance under a range of methanol molarities (1M-4M) and cell temperatures (40°C-70°C) have been taken for both the novel and standard MEA. Linear sweep voltammetry (LSV) and AC impedance spectroscopy (ACIS) were used to give some insight into what was occurring within the MEA with regards to methanol crossover current and the proton conductivity within the DMFC. To obtain the best possible DMFC performance a range of mordenite loadings from 0wt%1.0wt% were utilised and an optimum loading of 0.5wt% was reached. MEA which featured mordenite that had undergone ion exchange into a protonated form (from the sodium form) and had a silane functional group (glycidoxypropyltrimethoxysilane) grafted onto the surface, gave DMFC performances that were as much as 50% better than the standard. The highest power density obtained with this MEA was 43.6mW/cm-2 compared to the 35mW/cm-2 obtained using the standard. Values obtained for the methanol crossover current and proton conductivity under working DMFC operating conditions showed that this novel MEA had as much as 16% lower methanol permeability compared to the standard combined with comparable proton conductivity when using a 1M methanol feed. The durability of a novel MEA featuring the 0.5wt% functionalised H-mordenite composite barrier layer was tested in the DMFC and compared to a standard MEA at a constant current of 50mA/cm-2 over 100 hours. The cell potential fell by 0.1mV/h in comparison to a 0.23mV/h loss observed with the standard. The work reported within this study aims to show that by incorporating a thin Nafion/mordenite composite layer at the anode/membrane interface within an MEA will result in improvements in DMFC performance. The development of this technology has led to the application for a patent due to the potential for the commercial development of DMFC using this novel approach.
Supervisor: Holmes, Stuart Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council ; University of Manchester
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Direct Methanol Fuel Cell ; DMFC ; Membrane ; Crossover ; Diffusion ; Zeolite ; Mordenite