(690e) Hydrogen Fueled Micro-Fuel Cell with Microfluidic Channels on a PFSA Plane

Authors: 
Mahmoodi, S. R., Stevens Institute of technology
Besser, R. S., Stevens Institute of Technology
Microfluidic devices have shown considerable promise in a wide range of applications from medical screening to portable energy sources. Micro fuel cells (μFCs) have been attracting much attention as a leading candidate for prospective portable power sources and battery replacements [1-4]. Their ability to create an efficient and clean source of energy combined with the ease of portability makes μFCs available to meet the needs of various portable electronic applications in the future [4, 5]. To this purpose, making more efficient devices with cost effective processes and materials is crucial.

Many efforts on fuel cell miniaturization are focused on silicon-based techniques as silicon is the most common substrate in MEMS technology [6, 7]. However, combining silicon devices with polymeric fuel cells at mm or sub-mm scale presents many challenges, none of which have been solved in a completely satisfactory manner [8]. Furthermore, in recent years due to material property issues associated with PDMS such as bulk absorption of small molecules and evaporation through the device, there has been a tendency towards the employment of thermoplastics for microfluidic systems [9].

Distinct from previous attempts on fabricating in-plane μFCs in other studies, in this work we present a novel On-Membrane Micro Fuel Cell design where the micro-flow channels for fuel and oxidant input are fabricated by using a combination of laser micromachining and hot-bonding process. In preparation of the device, a laser patterned acrylic sheet was pressed onto the Nafion substrate by a gas-cushion hot-bonding and the inlet tubes were mounted on the acrylic sheet. The micro device performance was characterized by I-V polarization curves and impedance spectroscopy under dry and humidified conditions. The combined in-plane and through-plane flux of protons in the membrane can be compared to literature data.

With this fabrication technology high aspect ratio structures can be fabricated over large surface areas, which prompts a commercially successful manufacturing of polymer-based micro-components.

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