Nanoporous separator and low fuel concentration to minimize crossover in direct methanol laminar flow fuel cells

A. S. Hollinger, R. J. Maloney, R. S. Jayashree, D. Natarajan, L. J. Markoski, P. J.A. Kenis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Laminar flow fuel cells (LFFCs) overcome some key issues - most notably fuel crossover and water management - that typically hamper conventional polymer electrolyte-based fuel cells. Here we report two methods to further minimize fuel crossover in LFFCs: (i) reducing the cross-sectional area between the fuel and electrolyte streams, and (ii) reducing the driving force of fuel crossover, i.e. the fuel concentration gradient. First, we integrated a nanoporous tracketch separator at the interface of the fuel and electrolyte streams in a single-channel LFFC to dramatically reduce the cross-sectional area across which methanol can diffuse. Maximum power densities of 48 and 70 mW cm-2 were obtained without and with a separator, respectively, when using 1 M methanol. This simple design improvement reduces losses at the cathode leading to better performance and enables thinner cells, which is attractive in portable applications. Second, we demonstrated a multichannel cell that utilizes low methanol concentrations (<300 mM) to reduce the driving force for methanol diffusion to the cathode. Using 125 mM methanol as the fuel, a maximum power density of 90 mW cm-2 was obtained. This multichannel cell further simplifies the LFFC design (one stream only) and its operation, thereby extending its potential for commercial application.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3523-3528
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010


  • Fuel cell
  • Laminar flow
  • Methanol crossover
  • Multichannel
  • Separator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Nanoporous separator and low fuel concentration to minimize crossover in direct methanol laminar flow fuel cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this