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Novel direct redox fuel cell : membraneless low precious metal catalyst electrode assembly Dara, Mohammad Saad


The direct fuel redox fuel cell (DFRFC) substitutes the oxygen reduction cathode of low temperature fuel cells such as polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) and direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC) with an iron redox cathode of a redox flow battery. This approach helps address many of the issues with low temperature fuel cells. For both the PEMFC and DMFC the iron redox cathode eliminates precious metal content from the cathode. With respect to the PEMFC the inherent liquid nature of the iron redox cathode provides both heat and water management to the system which significantly reduces the balance-of-plant components. On the other hand, the issues of fuel crossover for the DMFC are no longer a concern as methanol is not electrochemically active at the carbon cathode used for the ferric reduction reaction. However, the use of metal redox ions in conjunction with a membrane of the same polarity introduces issues of membrane contamination which significantly reduce membrane conductivity resulting in increased ohmic overpotentials and losses in fuel cell performance. In addition, crossover of the redox catholyte can result in anode depolarization. In this a work a novel membraneless direct liquid redox fuel cell is demonstrated. The membraneless design utilizes 3-D electrode(s), the engineering of which allows control of the reactant concentration gradients. This control of the reactant gradient allows for more complete reactant utilization which mitigate catholyte crossover and allow for the elimination of the PEM. The PEM in the DFRFC used in this work is replaced with an open-spacer and liquid acid electrolyte. In addition, this novel membraneless electrode assembly design is completely scalable and flexible to different platforms, fuels, oxidants and electrolytes. In this work a membraneless direct hydrogen redox fuel cell and membraneless direct methanol redox fuel cell based on the 3-D electrode concept and controlled concentration gradient are demonstrated. In addition, the use of the liquid acid electrolyte in the membraneless direct hydrogen redox fuel cell allowed for improved ionic conductivity to the anode catalyst layer. This allowed for significant reductions in precious metal catalyst content to be made from the hydrogen oxidation anode.

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