Direct Methanol Fuel Cell with polyphosphazene membrane

Period of Performance: 08/11/2000 - 02/10/2001


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Icet, Inc.
916 Pleasant St., Unit 12
Norwood, MA 02062
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

Tulane University
6823 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70118
Institution POC


Permeation of methanol through the polymer electrolyte membrane continues to be a problem in the direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC). Methanol cross-over leads to : (I) parasitic consumption of fuel at the cathode resulting in reduced fuel efficiency and (ii) establishment of a mixed potential leading to reduced terminal cell voltage and thus reduced electrical efficiency. Attempts to reduce the cross-over by alloying with other polymers have always resulted in the lowering of the membrane conductivity. Preliminary work conducted at Tulane University on sulfonated/crosslinked polyphosphazene membranes are very encouraging and show that it is possible to decouple proton conductivity from water and methanol diffusion (crossover). Further work is needed to fabricate and test polyphosphazene-based membrane-electrode-assemblies (MEA) for direct liquid methanol fuel cells. This proposal aims to further develop the work done at Tulane towards the application of the polyphosphazene membranes in direct methanol fuel cells. Membrane properties, fuel cell performance and methods of fabricating MEA without the need for hot-pressing are the proposed objectives of this Phase I program. This research is expected to result in a better direct methanol fuel cell. Immediate application is expected to be in the battery replacement power supplies for communications equipment for the Army. Extension to electric vehicles would also be possible with this development.