Panasonic develops direct methanol fuel cell system with high power output and durability

Dec 26, 2009

Panasonic Corporation announced it has developed a direct methanol fuel cell system which can produce an average power output of 20 W by increasing the output per cubic centimeter twice that of its previous prototype. Using this technology, Panasonic aims to develop a 100 W-class portable generator and start field testing in fiscal 2012 ending in March 2012.

Heightening environmental concerns and depletion of fossil fuels urge the development of alternative, clean energy with little . Great hopes are placed on the practical application of direct methanol fuel cells as an alternative, because they produce no air pollutants and significantly lower amount of CO2 than internal combustion engine generators.

In 2008 Panasonic developed compact stacks by reviewing the structure of its connecting parts. It also developed compact and energy-efficient balance of plant (BOP) systems including a fuel supply pump that can directly mix and adjust the concentration of methanol internally. By improving the stack technology, Panasonic has successfully doubled the average power output to 20 W while retaining the same volume with the preceding prototype. The high output methanol fuel cell allows for powering feature-laden laptop computers, which have relatively high power consumption.

The new fuel cell system also boasts 5,000 hours of durability (based on eight-hour intermittent use per day). Durability was a major challenge for commercialization of fuel cells because power output drops as the electrodes deteriorate. Panasonic solved the problem by developing a technology that enables supplying high concentration fuel to the electrode.

Panasonic continues to work to increase output of direct methanol fuel cells, capitalizing on the above technologies that have achieved downsizing and high durability. As a next step, it plans to develop a portable generator with an average output of 100 W that will be much more compact than engine-generators. Combining the fuel cell generator with its high-capacity lithium-ion battery module, Panasonic aims to bring to market an outdoor power source that integrates energy-creation and energy-storage functions.

Explore further: Google offers big prize for small power box

Source: Panasonic Corporation

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User comments : 11

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winthrom
2.3 / 5 (4) Dec 26, 2009
Then we put the really good one in my electric car. Methanol is easy to make from bio-fuel stocks. For Petrol, this is EOL (end-of-life)
DGBEACH
1.5 / 5 (8) Dec 27, 2009
For Petrol, this is EOL (end-of-life)

Until we start using only synthetic oils for lubrication, and non-petroleum based plastics in manufacturing, that is just a pipe-dream. Look around you...nearly everything we use is made from it!
Shootist
1.6 / 5 (7) Dec 27, 2009
Then we put the really good one in my electric car. Methanol is easy to make from bio-fuel stocks. For Petrol, this is EOL (end-of-life)


20 watts won't take you very far.

And growing food, or using food growing ground, to make fuel, is foolish in the extreme.

And yes, when someone does, finally, come up with a fuel cell that doesn't cost 50kg of gold and produces something more that 150kw (201 HP) on demand; then we'll have a replacement for the internal combustion engine.
david_42
not rated yet Dec 27, 2009
At 100 watts for a 2kg fuel cell, this sounds like it could scale to automotive levels. You don't need peak power for a car, just the average requirement. This is more on the order of 6-8kw. Batteries or ultra-capacitors can handle both peak power and regenerative braking output.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Dec 27, 2009
From another site I found that the fuel cell is 360cc large and the projected 100W fuel cell is 2 liters in size (and will supposedly weigh 2kg - without the fuel)

for a small car around 50kW are sufficient - but this would still mean 100kg of extra weight and 100l of extra space needed. For a larger car you can easily double that. I wonder where the break-even point for this type of technology is.
david_king
1 / 5 (5) Dec 27, 2009
If they can scale up production to where it becomes cost-effective for co-generation in the home, I think they will find a huge potential market. What do you get from these when you run them backwards? Do they generate storable hydrogen or methanol?
NeilFarbstein
1 / 5 (5) Dec 27, 2009
I'll still put my money in batteries since methanol
fuel cells make CO2 and they will aggravate the greenhouse effect.
suchengyu
not rated yet Dec 28, 2009
Smart Fuel Cell already has this kind of technology, and products has been in the market for years.
if they are planning for field testing in 2012, i think they are little behind the schedule.
But it make sense if they are targeting different market, or differentiate by lower pricing.
Parsec
not rated yet Dec 28, 2009
Like most technologies, this one will work better for some applications that others. If they can double the power density so its 100W in 1L (instead of 2L), then a 50W generator in 500 ml would make a fine battery for a laptop. That is 500 grams (1 lb ~= 450g) + say 200ml refillable plug-in canisters. 200ml concentrated methanol costs about $.50. Each canister could then power the laptop for 10+ hours. This would be a game changing technology, not to mention reducing our dependence on limited foreign sources of lithium.
thematrix606
not rated yet Jan 01, 2010
"Methanol is easy to make from bio-fuel stocks"

Oh of course, because of people like you corn prices have risen 80% which ends up kills more people in developing countries. Get your logic straight.

DO NOT USE FOOD FOR ANYTHING ELSE THAN EATING if you have people in the world starving.
NeilFarbstein
1 / 5 (5) Jan 01, 2010
use switchgrass or hemp or miscanthrus. They provide 8 times as much biomass as corn and other food crops.