Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol.134, No.14, 6076-6079, 2012
Membraneless, Room-Temperature, Direct Borohydride/Cerium Fuel Cell with Power Density of Over 0.25 W/cm(2)
The widespread adoption and deployment of fuel cells as an alternative energy technology have been hampered by a number of formidable technical challenges, including the cost and long-term stability of electrocatalyst and membrane materials. We present a microfluidic fuel cell that overcomes many of these obstacles while achieving power densities in excess of 250 mW/cm(2). The poisoning and sluggish reaction rate associated with CO-contaminated H-2 and methanol, respectively, are averted by employing the promising, high-energy density fuel borohydride. The high-overpotential reaction of oxygen gas at the cathode is supplanted by the high-voltage reduction of cerium ammonium nitrate. Expensive, ineffective membrane materials are replaced with laminar flow and a nonselective, porous convection barrier to separate the fuel and oxidant streams. The result is a Nafion-free, room-temperature fuel cell that has the highest power density per unit mass of Pt catalyst employed for a non-H-2 fuel cell, and exceeds the power density of a typical H-2 fuel cell by 50%.