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how can i make a methanol fuel cell? Answered

Is there any way in wich I could build a portable lightweight methanol fuel cell?



7 years ago

Methanol and Ethanol fuel cells are around and are actually quite simple. Most as based on a alkalizing process. Catalysts can be rare and non rare earth based. The membrane is also different as it uses a different ion transport method which is alkali not acid based. Power output is usually lower than a hydrogen cell but with a good setup (catalysts and proper operating temps) the cell can get very close to the hydrogen output. Whats interesting about these cells is that the cost can be drastically lower than a hydrogen cell when using the non-noble catalysts. As an example we were coming up with a cost of about $175 or so to make a 1kw fuel cell.. Almost all of that cost was the membrane instead of being the catalysts. A non noble catalysts cost can be as low as a few hundred dollars a pound compared to about $25K or more for platinum based ones. We've been running a old Sebring Citi car around using a ethanol fuel cell and ultracaps for about 3 years now. We use a water ethanol mix and outside air. We've also run it on rubbing alcohol and vodka. We did entertain talking to one of the bigger vodka makers for a sponsorship. Would have to have been 'fair'. Something like one for the car, one foe me ;-] IF you read this (answer waaaay after the original post) look for information on DMFC or DEMFC or DEFC which is nothing more than Direct Ethanol Fuel Cell.

Can you share more about it ?
I am aware of carbon nanotubes as a catalyzer instead of platinum.
Whate are non-noble catalysts one could use for the pourpose ?

Non-noble catalysts have been in the pipeline for years. Historically most research had been done by/for NASA types in the 60's trying to get the sky high (pun intended you may groan loudly is you must ;-]) cost down. It's a tricky path and the reactions are lower energy in general so getting these to work well without resorting to precious metals is a bit of a challenge. So unlike the common platinum mixes you will not find a "recipe" to mix some up to try just yet. Without giving away the store here the common metal used in these catalysts is nickel. That is usually the most expensive one used. So compared to platinum, it's a wee bit of a bargain.

I don't think the nanotubes are actually being used as a catalyzing agent themselves. Nanotubes would act more like a short piece of wire or a conductive path with lower resistance to promote electron flow in the catalyst layer/mix. What is used now for this is carbon black (Vulcan xc-77 is common) . The problem with carbon black is that with a corrosive fuel such as an alcohol the carbon black slowly gets eroded away and is what determines the service life of the fuel cell. Normally it is the membrane life. That is why a alcohol fuel cell is good for about 4500 (ish) hours while a hydrogen cell could go up to about 70000 hours. The nanotubes being tougher than their sooty cousin would extend this. I know there has been some talk about using graphene sheets as a membrane but until it becomes easier and cheaper to make something bigger that a pencil tip eraser that's a way down the road too.

Nickel is lately seen inside the rossi-focardi cold fusion reactor as a catalist.
The over mentioned cold fusion reactor isn't a disclosed project.
So .. google for 'nickel catalyst open source' is the latest shout ..?

Basically I would be interested in methanol or ethanol as l hydrogen byproducts .
My ideal pipeline would then be wind turbine -> hydrogen production -> methanol stocking -> fuel cells usage.

I would consider looking at older patents and articles. Those give some information about various types of catalysts. As I said you won't find anything really leading edge but you can get close. The better non noble catalysts are usually mixes of 3-4 metals. Collectively they do what platinum does by itself.
If you have money to spend you can look at several books put out by Springer or CRC that will be fairly up to date. You can spend $75 or you can spend a whole lot more. I know of one set of 4 reference fuel cell books that sell for $3500 !

Other than storage issues I'd stop at hydrogen. If you want to use alcohol I'd actually look at fermentation. If you can get the correct molecular sleeve then you don't even distill it after, you just push it through the sleeve.I'm looking at the total overall cost and time for a wind turbines etc verses a bucket and some yeast ;-]

-Other than storage issues I'd stop at hydrogen. If you want to use alcohol I'd actually look at fermentation.-
That would be an interesting approach (fermentation) for a farm with wood or grass clips abundance.

On the other hand methanol would be optimistically produced combining hydrogen and CO2 wich is better suited for industrial applications ,where you can buy and stock large quantities of whatever (even CO2).

On a smaller scale maybe ammonia would be a better choice , what is your opinion about it ?

http://www.peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Alternative_Fuels#AmmoniaPeswiki page about ammonia .

An article about liquid ammonia as a fuel ,produced combining hydrogen and nitrogen.
  A patent from John S. Fleming (liquid ammonia heating system research contributor).

If the answer was yes there'd already be one in your car.

Not necessarily true. The oil company's have a big hold on alternate fuel development and it seems that every new thing developed get the patient bought and no one seems to win. oil company's have deals with car manufacturers and want consumers to buy there fuel. Oil is black gold in this age so don't under estimate the oil company's. why do you think there's always a war in the middle east. Oil. troops are there protecting the oil lines.