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Air-Breathing Fuel Cell Stack

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Air-breathing passive fuel cell stack
Air-breathing passive fuel cell stack

Technology Marketing SummaryLANL has developed a fuel cell for portable power applications in laptop computers, toys, and other appliances with low-power demand.DescriptionThe increasing number of portable electronic devices on the market today—from laptop computers to remote-controlled toys—is creating a demand for improved, more environmentally friendly battery technologies. Until recently, electrochemical fuel cells were too complicated and expensive to meet the need because they required cooling, humidification, and pressurization subsystems to operate. In response, LANL has developed the Air-Breathing Fuel Cell Stack for Portable Power Applications. The device consists of the fuel-cell stack itself (a finned, cylindrical device somewhat larger than a D-cell battery) and a small canister (with a miniature pressure regulator) that provides hydrogen fuel. The hydrogen fuel combines with oxygen that diffuses into the stack from the surrounding air. The only products of the Air-Breather are electrical power and water, which serve to maintain the moisture necessary for the unit’s performance. A rechargeable fuel canister lasts three times as long as a conventional battery.BenefitsSmall, compact, reliable, inexpensive, silent, and relatively light
Requires no peripheral devices
Environmentally clean—produces no byproducts for disposal
Lasts at least three times as long as conventional batteries
Applications and IndustriesLANL’s unique, cylindrical, passive, fuel-cell design is ideal for low-voltage, low-power applications. The Air-Breather is primarily designed for powering portable electrical devices with small power needs—including flashlights, laptop computers, remote-controlled toys, and radios.Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Date
Patent 6,458,479
Patent
6,458,479
Air breathing direct methanol fuel cell
An air breathing direct methanol fuel cell is provided with a membrane electrode assembly, a conductive anode assembly that is permeable to air and directly open to atmospheric air, and a conductive cathode assembly that is permeable to methanol and directly contacting a liquid methanol source. Water loss from the cell is minimized by making the conductive cathode assembly hydrophobic and the conductive anode assembly hydrophilic.
Los Alamos National Laboratory 10/01/2002
Issued
Patent 6,492,052
Patent
6,492,052
Air breathing direct methanol fuel cell
An air breathing direct methanol fuel cell is provided with a membrane electrode assembly, a conductive anode assembly that is permeable to air and directly open to atmospheric air, and a conductive cathode assembly that is permeable to methanol and directly contacting a liquid methanol source.
Los Alamos National Laboratory 12/10/2002
Issued
Patent 6,596,422
Patent
6,596,422
Air breathing direct methanol fuel cell
A method for activating a membrane electrode assembly for a direct methanol fuel cell is disclosed. The method comprises operating the fuel cell with humidified hydrogen as the fuel followed by running the fuel cell with methanol as the fuel.
Los Alamos National Laboratory 07/22/2003
Issued
Patent 5,595,834
Patent
5,595,834
Annular feed air breathing fuel cell stack
A stack of polymer electrolyte fuel cells is formed from a plurality of unit cells where each unit cell includes fuel cell components defining a periphery and distributed along a common axis, where the fuel cell components include a polymer electrolyte membrane, an anode and a cathode contacting opposite sides of the membrane, and fuel and oxygen flow fields contacting the anode and the cathode, respectively, wherein the components define an annular region therethrough along the axis. A fuel distribution manifold within the annular region is connected to deliver fuel to the fuel flow field in each of the unit cells. The fuel distribution manifold is formed from a hydrophilic-like material to redistribute water produced by fuel and oxygen reacting at the cathode. In a particular embodiment, a single bolt through the annular region clamps the unit cells together. In another embodiment, separator plates between individual unit cells have an extended radial dimension to function as cooling fins for maintaining the operating temperature of the fuel cell stack.
Los Alamos National Laboratory 01/21/1997
Issued
Patent 5,514,486
Patent
5,514,486
Annular feed air breathing fuel cell stack
A stack of polymer electrolyte fuel cells is formed from a plurality of unit cells where each unit cell includes fuel cell components defining a periphery and distributed along a common axis, where the fuel cell components include a polymer electrolyte membrane, an anode and a cathode contacting opposite sides of the membrane, and fuel and oxygen flow fields contacting the anode and the cathode, respectively, wherein the components define an annular region therethrough along the axis. A fuel distribution manifold within the annular region is connected to deliver fuel to the fuel flow field in each of the unit cells. In a particular embodiment, a single bolt through the annular region clamps the unit cells together. In another embodiment, separator plates between individual unit cells have an extended radial dimension to function as cooling fins for maintaining the operating temperature of the fuel cell stack.
Los Alamos National Laboratory 05/07/1996
Issued
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
DOE S-80,409Production - This technology is reduced to practice; however, it may require customization depending upon the specific application of interest. Available - This technology is available for nonexclusive licensing.07/14/201004/04/2013

Contact LANL About This Technology

To: Laura Barber<ljbb@lanl.gov>