The introduction of next-generation portable electronic devices is severely limited by the reduced run time between recharges. The power demand is outpacing advancements in traditional battery technology, and device manufacturers are aggressively pursuing advanced power systems capable of providing greater on-board energy and recharging speed.
Dr. Alfred Lam and Dr. David Wilkinson, of the University of British Columbia's Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, have developed a patent pending membraneless direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) power system that is anticipated to deliver industry leading energy density, extended run time and instantaneous "off-the-grid" recharging capability through a simple fuel cartridge replacement.
The novel design simplifies the conventional DMFC architecture though the implementation of a 3D electrode and the replacement of the polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM)—a standard in DMFC design for over 25 years—with a liquid electrolyte and an open spacer made from simple "off the shelf" materials. This approach, along with an integrated method of power control, possesses significant competitive advantages not possible with conventional PEM-based design and represents a significant advancement towards a reliable, cost-effective fuel cell for the next generation of portable devices.