A fuel cell having an anode and a cathode and a polymer electrolyte membrane located between anode and cathode gas diffusion backings uses a methanol vapor fuel supply. A permeable polymer electrolyte membrane having a permeability effective to sustain a carbon dioxide flux equivalent to at least 10 mA/cm.sup.2 provides for removal of carbon dioxide produced at the anode by reaction of methanol with water. Another aspect of the present invention includes a superabsorpent polymer material placed in proximity to the anode gas diffusion backing to hold liquid methanol or liquid methanol solution without wetting the anode gas diffusion backing so that methanol vapor from the liquid methanol or liquid methanol-water solution is supplied to the membrane.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERAL RIGHTS
This invention was made with government support under Contract No. W-7405-ENG-36 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.