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Research Papers: Flows in Complex Systems

Up-Scaled Microfluidic Fuel Cells With Porous Flow-Through Electrodes

[+] Author and Article Information
A. Bazylak

e-mail: abazylak@mie.utoronto.ca
Thermofluidics for Energy and Advanced Materials Laboratory,
Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering,
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering,
University of Toronto,
5 King's College Road,
Toronto, ON, M5S 3G8, Canada

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received July 30, 2012; final manuscript received November 29, 2012; published online March 19, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Kendra Sharp.

J. Fluids Eng 135(2), 021102 (Mar 19, 2013) (7 pages) Paper No: FE-12-1356; doi: 10.1115/1.4023449 History: Received July 30, 2012; Revised November 29, 2012

In this work, an experimental microfluidic fuel cell is presented with a novel up-scaled porous electrode architecture that provides higher available surface area compared to conventional microfluidic fuel cells, providing the potential for higher overall power outputs. Our proof-of-concept architecture is an up-scaled flow-through fuel cell with more than nine times the active electrode surface area of the flow-through architecture first proposed by Kjeang et al. (2008, “A Microfluidic Fuel Cell With Flow-Through Porous Electrodes,” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 130, pp. 4000–4006). Formic acid and potassium permanganate were employed as the fuel and oxidant, respectively, both dissolved in a sulfuric acid electrolyte. Platinum black was employed as the catalyst for both anode and cathode, and the performances of carbon-based porous electrodes including cloth, fiber, and foam were compared to that of traditional Toray carbon paper (TGP-H-120). The effects of catalyst loading were investigated in a microfluidic fuel cell containing 80 pores per linear inch carbon foam electrodes. A discussion is also provided of current density normalization techniques via projected electrode surface area and electrode volume, the latter of which is a highly informative means for comparing flow-through architectures.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME
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Figures

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Fig. 1

Schematic of the microfluidic fuel cell architecture: (a) assembled and (b) expanded

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Fig. 2

Photograph of a completed microfluidic fuel cell from: (a) top view and (b) bottom view

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Fig. 3

Photographs of the following carbon materials: (a) 80 PPI carbon foam, (b) 100 PPI carbon foam, (c) RPA-TD06P38 carbon fiber, (d) TGP-H-120 Toray carbon paper, and (e) designation B: plain carbon cloth

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Fig. 4

Polarization curves normalized by: (a) projected electrode surface area and (b) electrode volume for: 80 PPI carbon foam (), 100 PPI carbon foam (), carbon fiber (), carbon paper (), and carbon cloth ()

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Fig. 5

Power density curves normalized by: (a) projected electrode surface area and (b) electrode volume for: 80 PPI carbon foam (), 100 PPI carbon foam (), carbon fiber (), carbon paper (), and carbon cloth ()

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Fig. 6

Polarization and power density curves for four MFCs employing 80 PPI carbon foam with varied platinum black catalyst loadings

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Fig. 7

Maximum power density of four MFCs employing 80 PPI carbon foam with varied platinum black catalyst loadings

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