Skip to main content Accessibility help

Design and Simulation of methanol sensing devices using DMFC technology

  • Subramaniam Chittur K (a1) (a2) and Muthuraja S (a3)


Direct Methanol Fuel Cell, DMFC, technology, can be used for fabrication of sensors for volatile organic compounds like alcohols. A fundamental limitation in DMFC is methanol crossover. In this process methanol diffuses from the anode through the electrolyte to the cathode, where it reacts directly with the oxygen and produces no electrical current from the cell. This also results in poisoning of the cathode catalysts. The designed and fabrication of the sensor is by means of micro electro mechanical systems (MEMS) fabrication technology with electrochemical inputs. To achieve this we have used a passive mode design protocol using COMSOL Multiphysics. The design and simulation would involve optimization of various parameters, in the construction of the cell. We can optimize the overall power density and hence the sensitivity of the sensor by the modification of various parameters like the area of the working electrodes, separation distance and the electrode-electrolyte interface. A passive mode design protocol, for a cm cell area, using various parametric functions, and interfacing Darcy’s law of fluidic flow through a porous medium, under specific pressure and temperature, was applied. The designing involves the construction of gas diffusion layers using carbon cloth for anode and cathode with various parametric variations. Nafion membrane was selected as proton exchange membrane for the construction with different interface structure to analyze the sensor’s performance. Platinum and various alloy catalysts like Pt-Ru, Pt-Fe, Pt-Sn and Pt-Mo was chosen as the working catalysts. The parametric functions of the cell were optimized for ampherometric detection. It is proposed to design a MEMS based sensor with microfludic interconnects and its response characteristics will be studied.



Hide All
[1] Yang, W.J., Wang, H.Y., and Kim, Y.B.. Channel geometry optimization using a 2D fuel cell model and its verification for a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell. Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 39(17):94309439, June 2014.
[2] Jiang, Rongzhong and Chu, Deryn. Water Crossover: A Challenge to DMFC System II. Simulation of Water Recycling in a 20 W DMFC System. J. Electrochem. Soc., 155(8):B804, August 2008.
[3] Yang, W.W., Zhao, T.S., and Xu, C.. Three-dimensional two-phase mass transport model for direct methanol fuel cells. Electrochim. Acta, 53(2):853862, December 2007.
[4] Yoon, Wonseok and Huang, Xinyu. A Multiphysics Model of PEM Fuel Cell Incorporating the Cell Compression Effects. J. Electrochem. Soc., 157(5):B680, May 2010.
[5] Dickinson, Edmund J.F., Ekström, Henrik, and Fontes, Ed. COMSOL Multiphysics®: Finite element software for electrochemical analysis. A mini-review. Electrochem. commun., 40:7174, March 2014.
[6] Scaramuzza, Matteo, Ferrario, Alberto, Pasqualotto, Elisabetta, and De Toni, Alessandro. Development of an Electrode/Electrolyte Interface Model Based on Pseudo-Distributed Elements Combining COMSOL, MATLAB and HSPICE. Procedia Chem., 6:6978, 2012.
[7] Ubong, E. U., Shi, Z., and Wang, X.. Three-Dimensional Modeling and Experimental Study of a High Temperature PBI-Based PEM Fuel Cell. J. Electrochem. Soc., 156(10):B1276, October 2009.
[8] Motokawa, Shinji, Mohamedi, Mohamed, Momma, Toshiyuki, Shoji, Shuichi, and Osaka, Tetsuya. MEMS-based design and fabrication of a new concept micro direct methanol fuel cell (µ-DMFC). Electrochem. commun., 6(6):562565, June 2004.
[9] Wallgren, K. and Sotiropoulos, S.. A Nafion®-based co-planar electrode amperometric sensor for methanol determination in the gas phase. J. Chem. Sci., 121(5):703709, November 2009.
[10] Kamarudin, S.K., Daud, W.R.W., Ho, S.L., and Hasran, U.A.. Overview on the challenges and developments of micro-direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC). J. Power Sources, 163(2):743754, January 2007.
[11] Kulkarni, Abhay and Wang, Xia. Sensitivity Analysis of Some Key Gas Diffusion Layer Parameters in PEM Fuel Cells. In ECS Trans., volume 33, pages 2537. The Electrochemical Society, March 2011.
[12] Zimmerman, William B.. Electrochemical microfluidics. Chem. Eng. Sci., 66(7):14121425, April 2011.
[13] Subramaniam, C. K., Rajalakshmi, N., Ramya, K., and Dhathathreyan, K. S.. High performance gas diffusion electrodes for PEMFC. Bull. Electrochem., 16(8):350353, 2000.
[14] Nishanth, K. G., Sridhar, P., Pitchumani, S., and Shukla, A. K.. A DMFC with Methanol-Tolerant-Carbon-Supported-Pt-Pd-Alloy Cathode. J. Electrochem. Soc., 158(8):B871, August 2011.
[15] Mukerjee, Sanjeev. Role of Structural and Electronic Properties of Pt and Pt Alloys on Electrocatalysis of Oxygen Reduction. J. Electrochem. Soc., 142(5):1409, May 1995.
[16] Jiang, Rongzhong and Chu, Deryn. Water Crossover: A Challenge to DMFC System I. Experimental Determination of Water Crossover. J. Electrochem. Soc., 155(8):B798, August 2008.
[17] Liu, J.G., Zhao, T.S., Chen, R., and Wong, C.W.. The effect of methanol concentration on the performance of a passive DMFC. Electrochem. commun., 7(3):288294, March 2005.
[18] Gasteiger, Hubert A., Markovic, Nenad, Ross, Philip N., and Cairns, Elton J.. Carbon monoxide electrooxidation on well-characterized platinum-ruthenium alloys. J. Phys. Chem., 98(2):617625, January 1994.
[19] Guo, J.W., Zhao, T.S., Prabhuram, J., Chen, R., and Wong, C.W.. Preparation and characterization of a PtRu/C nanocatalyst for direct methanol fuel cells. Electrochim. Acta, 51(4):754763, November 2005.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed