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Multiple Fuel And Current Collector Testing In Direct Water Methanol Fuel Cells

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Energy Projects and Laboratory Ideas

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.954.1 - 10.954.11

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Paper Authors

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Dawson Plummer

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Sheldon Jeter

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Multiple Fuel and Current Collector Testing in Direct Water Methanol Fuel Cells

MAJ Dawson A. Plummer Sheldon M. Jeter, P. E., Ph. D.

Assistant Professor, Dept of Civil & Associate Professor Mechanical Engineering School of Mechanical Engineering United States Military Academy Georgia Institute of Technology West Point, NY 10996 Atlanta, GA 30332


Testing of fuel cells, in particular Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFC) is an excellent laboratory exercise that involves chemical thermodynamics, electrochemistry, and experimental engineering generally. The general technology of fuel cells and the more detailed technology of DMFCs are briefly discussed herein. This review highlights the advantages of DMFCs. The apparatus, procedure, and typical results for the educational testing of DMFCs are then presented, and the implications for further research and education are discussed.


Taking an active role in developing this alternative energy conversion technology and power resource, students at the United States Military Academy (USMA) are constructing and testing DMFCs. Current fuel cell testing is being conducted at the Academy’s fuel cell lab with some consultation from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Students are testing four materials for the current collection electrode, which are aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, and copper. In addition four different fuels - methanol, isopropanol, ethanol, and hydrogen - are also being tested. In addition to the educational benefits, DMFC technology is so new that the final results will help to determine the best fuel and electrode combinations necessary to achieve the optimal cell voltage and power density as well as to engineer the material selection and construction techniques that give the best cell longevity. The testing will identify the best fuel and electrode combination, and the testing will also be a valuable learning experience for the students involved. Direct Water Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFC) are of special practical importance since they use a convenient liquid fuel. They have already been utilized in many different capacities such as small to medium scale and emergency power generation where batteries would have been utilized Destructive methanol crossover into the polymer electrolyte have been observed for concentrations higher than a 25% mixture by volume of methanol to water, and as this problem becomes prevalent it obviously limits the power and efficiency of the cell. This problem needs to be investigated with other fuels and possibly mitigated. With regard to fuel cell construction, performance is also limited by the design and electrical conductivity of the current collector material. Various materials with high conductivity could be used, but the effects of corrosion over a period of time will eventually affect fuel cell life; consequently, an optimal selection must be made considering the cost,

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copy right @ 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Plummer, D., & Jeter, S. (2005, June), Multiple Fuel And Current Collector Testing In Direct Water Methanol Fuel Cells Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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