(35b) Polymer-Based Manufacturing of Microscale Fuel Cells | AIChE

(35b) Polymer-Based Manufacturing of Microscale Fuel Cells


Hollinger, A. S. - Presenter, University of Illinois
Kenis, P. J. A., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Many microfluidic fuel cells presented to date are much too large to be integrated into portable electronic devices.  In addition, most microfluidic fuel cells are unit cells which will not meet power requirements of a portable electronic device [1,2].  To address these limitations, manufacturing technologies must be developed for these fuel cells.  To this end, we have designed and fabricated a polymer-based fuel cell which enables smaller, lighter structures and thinner stacks that are attractive for portable applications [3]. The polymer layers of this fuel cell were fabricated via laser ablation and sealing was achieved using a chemically-stable adhesive. This all-polymer fuel cell achieved a maximum power density of 10 mW/cmat room temperature when using 1 M methanol as the fuel.

Here, we will demonstrate several polymer-based manufacturing technologies to improve the commercial viability of this fuel cell, and other microscale fuel cells.  In contrast to the laser ablation used in prior work [3], we will present micro-injection molding as an alternative manufacturing technique which is much better suited for manufacturing large volumes at low costs [4].  In addition, thermal bonding of dissimilar polymer layers will be utilized as an alternative to chemical adhesion of polymer layers. For this microscale fuel cell, thermal bonding of polymer layers will greatly decrease fabrication complexity.

[1] E. Kjeang, N. Djilali, D. Sinton, Journal of Power Sources, 186 (2009) 353-369.

[2] S.A.M. Shaegh, N.T. Nguyen, S.H. Chan, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 36 (2011) 5675-5694.

[3] A.S. Hollinger, P.J.A. Kenis, Journal of Power Sources (2013), doi: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2013.04.053

[4] H. Becker, C. Gartner, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 390 (2008) 89-111.