Optimization of Mass Transport within Direct Formic Acid Fuel Cell Anode Catalyst via Pore Formers


  • Steven Lam


Batteries have become a necessity for today’s ever-increasing demand in portable power, but lengthy recharging times, degradation, and limited charge capacity hinder the batteries’ efficiency. Direct formic acid fuel cells are a sustainable alternative to batteries due to their high efficiency, instantaneous fueling times, and 24/7 operating time capabilities. However, mass transport limitations due to two-phase flow (gaseous carbon dioxide product and liquid formic acid reactant) plague the fuel cell’s efficiency due to the anode catalyst layer’s small pore size (~20 nm). This two-phase flow must be optimized to reach peak cell performance. This research aims to optimize the two-phase flow by incorporating a magnesium oxide pore-former at varying wt% (0-30 wt%), increasing the pore size from ~20 nm to ~50 nm, and creating a porous templated anode catalyst layer. This porous anode catalyst layer will optimize the two-phase flow of the reactant and product while maintaining the proton conduction, mass transport, and electron conduction. These porous templated anode catalyst layers have showed increased electrochemical surface areas and improved cell performances compared to non-templated anode catalyst layers.