Capillary siphons and their application in the fuel delivery system of direct methanol fuel cells

Zhen Guo, Florida International University


The objective of the work is to develop a fuel delivery system for potable direct methanol fuel cell. Currently, one of the most fundamental limitations of direct methanol fuel cells is that the fuel supplied to the anode of the DMFC must be a very dilute aqueous methanol solution (usually 0.5∼1.5 M). If a DMFC is filled with a dilute aqueous methanol solution, the fuel cell operation time per refuel would be very short, which would considerably diminish the advantage of a DMFC over a conventional battery. To overcome this difficulty, a complex fuel delivery system based on the modern micro system technology was proposed by the author. The proposed fuel delivery system would include micro-pumps, a methanol sensor, and a control unit. The fuel delivery system adds considerable costs to the fuel cell system and consume considerable amount of electricity from the fuel cell, which in turn significantly reduces the net power output of the fuel cell. As a result, the DMFC would have tremendous difficulty to compete with the conventional battery technology in terms of costs and power output. This work presents a novel passive fuel delivery system for direct methanol fuel cells. In this particular system, a methanol fuel and an aqueous methanol solution are stored separately in two containers and a wick is disposed between the two containers in a siphon fashion, with the container of the aqueous methanol solution communicating with the anode of the DMFC. Methanol is siphoned from the methanol container to the aqueous solution container in-situ when the methanol in the aqueous methanol solution is consumed during the operation of the fuel cell. Through a proper selection of the wick and the containers, the methanol concentration near the anode of the DMFC could be maintained within a preferable range.

Subject Area

Mechanical engineering|Energy

Recommended Citation

Guo, Zhen, "Capillary siphons and their application in the fuel delivery system of direct methanol fuel cells" (2003). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3110364.