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Development of Next-Generation Direct Ethanol Fuel Cells for Sustainable Energy Production
1  The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


Direct ethanol fuel cells (DEFC), which convert the chemical energy stored in ethanol directly into electricity, are one of the most promising energy-conversion devices for portable, mobile and stationary power applications, primarily because ethanol is a carbon-neutral, sustainable fuel and possesses many unique physicochemical properties including high energy density and ease of transportation, storage as well as handling. However, conventional DEFCs that use acid proton exchange membranes and precious metal catalysts result in rather low performance. In our research, we use alkaline anion exchange membranes as the ion conductor in DEFCs. The change from the acid membrane to an alkaline one leads to a significant performance boost. In addition, we proposed a novel hybrid DEFC system, which consists of an alkaline anode and an acid cathode. The power density of DEFCs now is as high as 450 mW cm-2, which represents the highest power density for this type of fuel cell.

Keywords: Advanced Energy Technologies; Fuel Cells; Direct Ethanol Fuel Cells