Conceive and realize electro-catalytic anodes (methanol electrode) and cathodes (air electrode) for a direct methanol fuel cell
Fuel cells predominantly oxidize hydrogen to produce electricity. If other fuels such as methane or methanol are used they first have to be converted into hydrogen with a reformer, which is expensive and bulky. This is a serious drawback for applications in transportation. Direct methanol fuel cells are therefore being developed which oxidize methanol directly and which don't require costly external reformers. The main problem is here the poisoning of the catalyst. In past EC R&D new ternary alloy catalysts have been developed which allow operation for 4000 hrs without poisoning of the catalyst, ongoing work is now focused on increasing the current density and reducing the cost. This work is carried out in four coordinated contracts: JOUE-CT89-0011, JOUE-CT90-0026, JOUE-CT89-0007 and its follow-up JOUE-CT90-0037. Last both contracts form one project which is described in a single abstract.
Work on the development of the methanol anode includes the study of reaction mechanisms of methanol oxidation (e.g. formation of intermediate compounds, effect of catalytic single crystal orientation) to decrease the poisoning of the catalyst (University of Alicante and CNRS Bellevue) and the improvement of bimetallic and trimetallic catalyst systems and development of techniques to deposit the catalysts on a convenient substrate (University of Poitiers). Basic research on air cathodes will be carried out by the CREMPG of Grenoble to improve the reaction rates at these electrodes. Pt and Pt alloy catalysts will be used on Nafion or carbon substrate.
Methanol and air electrodes will be developed by CLAL on the basis of fundamental R&D carried out by the four university laboratories. A novel method will be used for the dispersion of the catalysts on the substrate (carbon felts, carbon papers or platinized titanium foils).