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Conception and realisation of a direct methanol fuel cell based on new catalytic methanol anodes and air cathodes

Reducing the amount of noble metals, such as platinum, in fuel cell electrodes will be one of the most important objectives of reducing costs in manufacturing in Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFCs). The project therefore aimed to design and prepare new catalytic anodes and cathodes for a DMFC by dispersion of a catalytic material in a suitable substrate. The prime objectives were to design a DMFC with good performance characteristics (i.e. 200mA/ cm 2 at a cell voltage of 0.5V and a temperature of 80ºC) yet with a low platinum loading (i.e. 1mg/cm 2 ).

Previous fundamental research, part of which was carried out under the JOULE I programme, led to better knowledge of the reaction mechanisms of methanol oxidation within DMFCs. As a result, new platinum-based catalytic electrodes were designed in order to improve electroactivity, the selectivity of the reaction and the long-term stability of the electrode. Platinum-based electrodes are, however, very sensitive to some reaction intermediates such as carbon monoxide. Higher platinum loadings are therefore necessary to compensate for the poisoning of the electrodes. This is particularly true for DMFCs operating at temperatures less than 120 C. Achieving the optimal level of performance versus cost was therefore a major goal of this project.

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CNRS Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Université de Poitiers
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