The development and fabrication of miniaturized direct methanol fuel cells and thin-film lithium ion battery hybrid system for portable applications
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In this work, a hybrid power module comprising of a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) and a Li-ion battery has been proposed for low power applications. The challenges associated with low power and small DMFCs were investigated and the performance of commercial Li-ion batteries was evaluated. At low current demand (or low power), methanol leakage through the proton exchange membrane (PEM) reduces the efficiency of a DMFC. Consequently, a proton conducting methanol barrier layer made from phospho-silica glass(PSG) was developed. At optimized deposition conditions, the PSG layers had low methanol permeability and moderate conductivity. The accumulation of CO2 inside the fuel tank was addressed by fabricating CO2 vents. Poly (dimethyl siloxane) (PDMS) and poly (1-trimethyl silyl propyne) (PTMSP) base polymers were used as the backbone material for these vents. The selectivity of CO2 transport through the vent was further enhanced by using additives like 1, 6-divinylperfluorohexane. Finally, the effects of self-discharge and voltage loss were evaluated for Panasonic coin cells and thin film LiPON cells. It was observed that the thin film battery outperformed the others in terms of low energy loss. Nonetheless, the performance of small Panasonic coin cells with vanadium oxide cathode was comparable at low discharge rates of less than 0.01% depth of discharge. Lastly, it was also observed that the batteries have stable cycles at low discharge rates.