Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created a new methanol fuel cell that is 50-percent more efficient that other comparable FC’s. This direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC), according to MIT Professor Paula Hammond is cost-effective, highly tunable and has more output than a comparable material called Nafion.
In fact, Hammond says the new layer-by-layer assembly technique is what makes the MIT fuel cell superior to Dupont’s Nafion. This type of nanotechnology makes the MIT DMFC less permeable to methanol leakage.
Methanol is a fuel favored in many portable devices since it has a high energy density and can be used directly instead of being reformed into hydrogen then run through a PEM fuel cell. Methanol is a liquid and is easier to handle than hydrogen gas, is arguably safer and the only waste is water and a small amount of CO2.
The thin film assembly technology that MIT has developed will not only be useful as a replacement for current battery technology, but the researchers are also examining its use for the photovoltaic industry as well.