Ethanol Fuel Cell Claims to be Commercially Viable

A fuel cell company will offer a pre-production micro fuel cell product next year that costs US$9 and ethanol fuel cartridges for 20 cents, which can be scaled up to 5 kW.

NEW YORK, New York, US, 2001-12-28 [] Medis Technology claims to have made a breakthrough in renewable fuel cell technology, saying its proprietary polymers, catalyst and electrolyte provide “the most advanced direct liquid methanol” (DLM) fuel cell to date. Designed without the standard proton exchange membrane (PEM), Medis’ fuel cell does not require a complex external hydrogen source. The technology is the foundation for two DLM fuel cell products being developed at Medis’ subsidiary, More Energy, in Israel. The fuel cell can be powered by internal ethanol or methanol, and requires no external fuel feeders, water management systems or external support systems. When the ethanol is used up, a new cartridge is inserted. The micro-fuel cell can deliver 5,000 mAh on 16 cc of methanol or ethanol, explains CEO Robert Lifton. Other direct methanol fuel cells have to carefully feed in methanol to avoid damaging the PEM, Medis places the ethanol or methanol in the fuel cell so there is no membrane to damage. The company says in registration statements that it can produce the unit for $9 and manufacture the fuel cartridge for 20¢. A cell phone charger would use two fuel cells, with dimensions of 3.4″ long, 1.65″ wide and 0.74″ deep, with a DC-to-DC converter to create the voltage. Lifton says the technology can be scaled to 5 kW and Medis is talking with other companies. He says the advantage for a larger fuel cell is that the only external system needed is the fuel source, with no expensive fuel reformers and other external systems.
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