*WINNER* Optimization of Mass Transport within Direct Formic Acid Fuel Cell Catalyst Layer via Pore Formers


  • Steven Lam


In today’s society, batteries have become a vital necessity for portable power, but lengthy recharging times, limited charge capacity, and tendency to degrade exponentially over time make batteries an inefficient power source. Direct formic acid fuel cells are a sustainable alternative to the battery due to their larger charge capacity, high efficiency, and small size. However, due to the two-phase flow on the anode and the low pore size between agglomerates in the catalyst layer (~20 nanometers), mass transport limitations plague the performance of the fuel cell. To maximize the performance, the transport of the reactant, formic acid, and the product, carbon dioxide, must be optimized. Previous work by the Rice research group has shown an increased performance by increasing the pore size of the catalyst layer from ~20 nanometers to ~10 micrometers with lithium carbonate particles. This research aims to investigate the use of magnesium oxide as an alternative pore forming template to increase the pore size between agglomerates to ~50 nanometers and increase the mass transport within the catalyst layer. Current work shows improved catalytic activity due to the increase in the porosity.