Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Energy Efficiency

Study Increases Fuel Cell Efficiency By 75%

[social_buttons] According to, a researcher in France has increased the efficiency of micro-sized direct methanol fuel cells to 75-percent. This further paves the way for fuel cells to replace lithium ion batteries in some mobile electronics: I would totally buy a fuel cell powered iPhone!

Fuel cells are seemingly attractive in comparison to lithium ion batteries because of their high energy potential: around sixteen times more energy than lithium ion batteries.

This increase was achieved by injecting a macroporous layer into the silicon-based microfuel cell. It resulted in fuel cells operating at room temperature with a power density of 385 watt-hours per liter. Lithium ion batteries typically have a power density of 270 Wh/L. Oh snap!

Current tech requires an operating temperature of 100 degrees Celsius or higher for fuel cells to actually produce power. Obviously, fuel cells must operate at room temperature before they can be adopted by the consumer market.

In the first study, the fuel cells achieved a power density of 4.3 milliwatts per square centimeter using 1.38 microliters per minute of fuel. But it was the second study that added the macromorphous layer. And it paid off. The density reached 9.25 mW/cm2 when using 550 nanoliters of fuel per minute. Adding fuel boosted power density to 12.7 mW/cm2 but lowered efficiency to 20 percent.

This breakthrough eliminates the need for things like pumps which  use fuel to run. But despite this accomplishment, Steve Arscott at the Institute of Electronics, Microelectronics and Nanotechnology in France says many challenges still remain:

“The biggest challenges facing micro fuel cells are: (i) high-performance room-temperature operation, (ii) miniaturization for on-chip use, (iii) compatibility with existing system fabrication (CMOS, for example), (iv) avoidance of complicated pumps for fuel and air which use energy themselves, (v) use of an efficient silicon-based proton exchange membrane and diffusion layers (novel porous layers for example), (vi) full integration with a microchannel architecture and also (vii) fuel storage,” he told “On the latter point, obviously the more fuel efficient the cell, the less fuel needs to be stored for a given working period.”

“One thing is sure,” he added. “Like everyone, I think that energy is about to become very important and, as Mark Twain (of who I’m a big fan) said, ‘What is a government without energy? And what is a man without energy? Nothing, nothing at all…’”

Photo: © Zoom-zoom |

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you!
Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

is a web developer, part-time blogger, and a full-time environmentalist. His crusade for all things eco started twenty years ago when he ditched his meat-and-potatoes upbringing for something more vegetarian-shaped. His passions include cooking, green tech, eco politics, and smart green design. And while he doesn't own a car anymore, he loves to write about those too. Jerry studied at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. During his time there he was a DJ at the campus station KCPR and he also wrote for the campus paper. Jerry currently resides in San Francisco, CA with his cat Lola. You can stalk him on Twitter @jerryjamesstone.


You May Also Like


Methanol is like hydrogen. Job one is to decarbonize existing uses before inventing new ones. As a marine fuel, it's not the best choice.


Over the past couple of years, I’ve reached the end of my first set of scenarios for marine decarbonization through 2100. My bets are...


France’s plugin electric vehicle share reached 23.8% in February, up from 20.1% year on year. Full electrics grew share, whilst plugin hybrids remained static....


With the overall auto market now in recovery mode (+9% YoY) — yet still 17% below January 2020, the last normal month — the...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.