Electrochemical Engine Center

ECEC Fuel Cell Research: Self-Activated Micro Direct-Methanol Fuel Cell (µDMFC) at Near Room Temperature

Investigators: C. Y. Wang and UCLA Faculty

Sponsor: DARPA Microsystem Technology Office (MTO)

Future integrated micro-sensors and actuators will enable sensing, computing, actuation, control, and communication on a single chip. Development of high-efficiency micro-power sources is critical for the fully functional, high-performance micro-systems. Presently power sources for MEMS are very limited. In this research, an ambient-temperature, micro liquid-methanol fuel cell (µDMFC) system will be developed. Unique features of our design include:

  • High energy efficiency and high energy and power densities (0.1-1 W/cm3)
  • Operation near room temperature (50-80°C)
  • Simple device structure without moving parts, and pump-less and self-activated by electrochemical reactions
  • Innovative micro fluidic and thermal management with a unique gas separator
  • Modular fabrication by micro-machining technologies of MEMS and rechargeable fuel cartridge
  • Zero emission: produces only CO2 and H2O
  • Novel membrane-electrode assembly to reduce methanol crossing over

This project is a collaborative effort with micro-fabrication experts at UCLA.