Fighting Against Air Pollution Methanol Fuel Cells to Provide Higher Efficiency

Worldwide, the climate is changing mainly due to too much CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. At the same time, 91% of the world’s population lives in places where air pollution exceeds World Health Organization (WHO) guideline limits resulting in 4.2 million premature deaths each year. That’s why we need to find new solutions and ensure zero harmful emissions in the transportation sector as it is responsible for a large proportion of air pollution, especially in densely populated areas with heavy traffic. One of them is methanol fuel cells.

How fuel cells are used

Fuel cells use hydrogen as a fuel to produce clean and efficient electricity that can power cars, trucks, buses, ships, cell phone towers, homes, and businesses. Methanol is an excellent hydrogen carrier fuel, packing more hydrogen in this simple alcohol molecule than can be found in liquified hydrogen.

Methanol can be ‘reformed’ on-site at a fuelling station to generate hydrogen for fuel cell cars, or in stationary power units feeding fuel cells for primary of back-up power. On-board reformer technology can be used on fuel cell vehicles, allowing quick 3-minute fuelling and extended range (from 200 km with hydrogen to 800 km on methanol). As a simple molecule – CH3OH – with no carbon-to-carbon bonds, Direct Methanol Fuel Cells can be used for some applications, where methanol reacts directly on the fuel cell’s anode to strip hydrogen atoms to fuel DMFC systems.

Since methanol can be produced from a wide range of conventional and renewable feedstocks, it is the most affordable, sustainable, and easily handled hydrogen carrier fuel.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727504.

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