DOI: 10.1595/003214087x314173181 ISSN: 0032-1400

Direct Methanol Fuel Cells

D. S. Cameron, G. A. Hards, B. Harrison, R. J. Potter
  • Metals and Alloys

Unlike other fuel cell types, the direct methanol fuel cell does not require a separate hydrogen generation system and therefore has greater commercial potential, particularly for powering portable appliances. However, the limiting factor for the cost-effective performance of such systems is the catalytic activity of the electrodes, in particular the anode. The single most active anode material is platinum, which is usually dispersed on a high surface area carbon support. It has been found that the addition of small amounts of metals such as lead, rhenium, ruthenium and tin to the platinum produces a significant increase in activity. The best of these bimetallic systems is based on a mixture of platinum and ruthenium. However, further worthwhile improvements in anode activity could result from a more fundamental understanding of the methanol decomposition reaction. In recognition of this, the Commission of the European Communities has initiated a research programme which involves collaboration between universities and industry in four member states. This article is based largely upon a paper given at the CEC–Italian Fuel Cell Workshop in Taormina, Sicily, in June 1987.