Electrochemical Engine Center

ECEC Fuel Cell Research: Development of Scalable Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Systems

The Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Test Rig

Project Information

  • Lower parasitic system losses due to lack of reformer
  • Greatly reduced system complexity and size
  • Greater inherent reliability due to less equipment
  • Ability to use fuel that is already commercially available, with nationwide infrastructure already in place

The overall objective of this research project is to design, build and demonstrate direct-methanol fuel cell stacks for auxiliary power or as a range extender for battery-powered heavy vehicles. Advanced computational fluid dynmaics simulation of fuel cell operation will be used in conjunction with experimental data to define ideal operating regimes for DMFC use.

The experimental DMFC test rig is equipped with a full array of diagnostics including:

  • Gas/Liquid extraction ports for use with FTIR method for determining species compositions at various locations in the test chamber
  • LEXAN windows that allow direct observation of the cathode and anode surface
  • An array of thermocouples, pressure transducers, and flow meters allowing determination of flow conditions in the anode and cathode inlet and exit locations
  • An Arbin 4-channel battery testing & life cycling system

This research project is supported by:

  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
  • Advanced Vehicle Program, The United State Department of Transportation
  • The Mid Atlantic Regional Consortium for Advanced Vehicles (MARCAV)

The Team at Penn State

  1. Investigators: Drs. C. Y. Wang (PI), S. Thynell, D. A. Streit, and M. M. Mench
  2. Lead Graduate Student: Joseph Scott, M.S. Candidate in Mechanical Engineering
  3. Undergraduate Assistants: John Curry, Mechanical Engineering; Ausmus Marburger, Mechanical Engineering