Cell Temperature in Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Operation

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processes Article Studies on Influence of Cell Temperature in Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Operation R. Govindarasu 1,* and S. Somasundaram 2 1 Department of Chemical Engineering, Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering, Pennalur, Sriperumbudur Tk-602 117, India Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, Alagappa Chettiar Government College of Engineering and Technology, Karaikudi-630 003, India; ssundaramau@gmail.com 2 * Correspondence: rgovind@svce.ac.in Received: 2 January 2020; Accepted: 17 March 2020; Published: 19 March 2020 􏰁􏰂􏰃 􏰅􏰆􏰇 􏰈􏰉􏰊􏰋􏰌􏰂􏰍 Abstract: Directmethanol fuel cells (DMFCs) offer one of the most promising alternatives for the replacement of fossil fuels. A DMFC that had an active Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA) area of 45 cm2, a squoval-shaped manifold hole design, and a Pt-Ru/C catalyst combination at the anode was taken for analysis in simulation and real-time experimentation. A mathematical model was developed using dynamic equations of a DMFC. Simulation of a DMFC model using MATLAB software was carried out to identify the most influencing process variables, namely cell temperature, methanol flow rate and methanol concentration during a DMFC operation. Simulation results were recorded and analyzed. It was observed from the results that the cell temperature was the most influencing process variable in the DMFC operation, more so than the methanol flow rate and the methanol concentration. In the DMFC, real-time experimentation was carried out at different cell temperatures to find out the optimum temperature at which maximum power density was obtained. The results obtained in simulation and the experiment were compared and it was concluded that the temperature was the most influencing process variable and 333K was the optimum operating temperature required to achieve the most productive performance in power density of the DMFC. Keywords: direct methanol fuel cell; methanol crossover; power density; catalyst; membrane electrode assembly 1. Introduction In the present juncture of the energy crisis, it has become inevitable to find alternatives for the mainly exploited fossil fuels. Recent developments in the field of fuel cells have given encouraging results suggesting their possible use of replacing the conventional highly polluting, less efficient combustible engines [1,2]. In this context, the direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) appears to be the most promising tool to provide power to portable electronic devices. This is an electrochemical cell that has advantages such as offering a simple and easy method to store fuel, a simple design and green emissions. DMFC is a subcategory of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) in which methanol is used as fuel. The salient features of DMFCs are the ease of transport of methanol, low or zero emissions, reliability in operation and utilization of methanol directly as a fuel to convert chemical energy into electric power. These DMFCs are designed especially for portable applications, where energy and power density are more important than efficiency [3,4]. A simple DMFC consists of a methanol distributor, gasket, anode, membrane, cathode, and oxygen gas distributor. Regarding the working principles of the DMFC system, methanol is oxidized to hydrogen ions (H+) and electrons (e-) at the anode. The released electrons are transported from the anode to the cathode through an electrical circuit where power is withdrawn, and at the same time, the hydrogen Processes 2020, 8, 353; doi:10.3390/pr8030353 www.mdpi.com/journal/processes

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