Enhanced performance of a direct methanol alkaline fuel cell (DMAFC) using a polyvinyl alcohol/fumed silica/KOH electrolyte

Shingjiang Jessie Lue, Wei Ting Wang, K. P.O. Mahesh, Chun Chen Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

56 Scopus citations


A novel polymer-inorganic composite electrolyte for direct methanol alkaline fuel cells (DMAFCs) is prepared by physically blending fumed silica (FS) with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) to suppress the methanol permeability of the resulting nano-composites. Methanol permeability is suppressed in the PVA/FS composite when comparing with the pristine PVA membrane. The PVA membrane and the PVA/FS composite are immersed in KOH solutions to prepare the hydroxide-conducting electrolytes. The ionic conductivity, cell voltage and power density are studied as a function of temperature, FS content, KOH concentration and methanol concentration. The PVA/FS/KOH electrolyte exhibits higher ionic conductivity and higher peak power density than the PVA/KOH electrolyte. In addition, the concentration of KOH in the PVA/FS/KOH electrolytes plays a major role in achieving higher ionic conductivity and improves fuel cell performance. An open-circuit voltage of 1.0 V and a maximum power density of 39 mW cm-2 are achieved using the PVA/(20%)FS/KOH electrolyte at 60 °C with 2 M methanol and 6 M KOH as the anode fuel feed and with humidified oxygen at the cathode. The resulting maximum power density is higher than the literature data reported for DMAFCs prepared with hydroxide-conducting electrolytes and anion-exchange membranes. The long-term cell performance is sustained during a 100-h continuous operation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7991-7999
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Issue number24
StatePublished - 2010


  • Cell performance
  • Conductivity
  • Direct methanol alkaline fuel cell (DMAFC)
  • Membrane electrode assembly (MEA)
  • Methanol permeability


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