Term Paper: Micro DMFC Modeling Fuel Cell

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Methanol Fuel Cell

Modeling Environmental and Performance Differences in Miniaturized Micro Direct Methanol Fuel Cells

Interest in the use of micro direct methanol fuel cells in applications with low power needs has been growing since the technology was first developed, and the many different devices and scenarios in which such fuel cells would be of enormous benefit continues to drive research in the area. Direct experimental observation has been conducted on many fronts in an effort to ascertain optimum operating environments and levels of internal elements within the micro direct methanol fuel cell system -- such as fuel concentration and rate of delivery -- yielding higher outputs and/or longer operational periods for individual and stacked micro direct methanol fuel cells. In this review of current literature on the subject, several such experimental studies are utilized to develop a more comprehensive and multi-faceted view of the design and operational characteristics of the micro direct methanol fuel cell. This review essentially finds that operational temperature and fuel rates are the most influential aspects of the micro direct methanol fuel cell in terms of performance in power output and duration as well as in operational efficiency.


As the number of electricity-dependent technological devices increases and size generally decreases (at least to a point), the need to develop innovative new power sources to be used in or in conjunction with these devices becomes more pressing. Micro direct methanol fuel cells have been shown to be one effective means of addressing this issue; though dependent on a fuel source in a way that a standard battery is not, in proper conditions and with proper design characteristics these fuel cells can provide power for much longer and are completely self-starting, requiring no additional energy input to begin generation (Mench et al. 2001; Lu et al. 2003). These fuel cells are also exponentially smaller than current battery technologies, and though this does limit their power generation capacity it increases their portability and the multitude of applications to which they are suited (Lu et al. 2003). Design techniques utilizing and even creating micro direct methanol fuel cells continue to evolve and develop, creating better understandings of the interacting forces that influence the performance of these micro direct methanol fuel cells. As the technology continues to grow more powerful through innovative cell design and stacking, smaller fuel cells and cell arrangements are able to deliver more power, creating even greater portability and expanding applicability (Lu et al. 2003; Lim et al. 2006; Kamitani et al. 2008).



Area term, cm2


temperature, C


channel height, micrometers


channel width, micrometers


low flow channel length, cm




molecular weight


pressure, Pa

Review of Current Design and Environmental Research

Though temperature has a major effect on the performance of micro direct methanol fuel cells, it is not generally something that can be easily controlled in practical applications, and thus much research has focused on improving the efficiency of micro direct methanol fuel cells at room temperature. Silicon micro structures for these fuels cells have drawn increasing attention, with experimental research showing that the reduction of the flow rate of methanol in room temperature micro direct methanol fuel cells can greatly improve fuel efficiency, though at the cost of actual power density (Kamitani et al. 2008). Reducing the fuel cell area also played a role in this experiment; reducing the size of the fuel cell surface area to 0.3cm2, the researchers were able to achieve a maximum power output o 12.5 mW cm-2 at a fuel rate of 5.52 microliters per minute-1, at an efficiency of 14.1% (Kamitani et al. 2008). Efficiency becomes 20.1% when the fuel rate is slowed to less than 2 microliters over the same time period, with a less extreme but still observable drop in power density (Kamitani et al. 2008).

Silicon was also a material of interest in an experiment that set out to design a micro direct methanol fuel cell that was specifically meant to be used in portable devices. Using a microelectromechnical technique, fuel delivery channels were etched into the surface of silicon wafers to create individual fuel cells capable of producing up to 50mW/cm2 at T. 60, though this power output was reduced to 16mW/cm2 at room… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Micro DMFC Modeling Fuel Cell.  (2010, May 11).  Retrieved December 7, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/micro-dmfc-modeling-fuel-cell/1643675

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"Micro DMFC Modeling Fuel Cell."  11 May 2010.  Web.  7 December 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/micro-dmfc-modeling-fuel-cell/1643675>.

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"Micro DMFC Modeling Fuel Cell."  Essaytown.com.  May 11, 2010.  Accessed December 7, 2019.