Direct Methanol Fuel Cells Are a Proven Alternative to Batteries

I have recently written a number of items concerning the alternative fuel methanol as I believe it holds great promise on the energy front because it’s not only renewable, the energy it provides is clean. This post appeared today on Clean Technica.

For those interested in alternative fuels that are renewable, Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFCs) are worth investigation. These alternative energy devices – invented at the Caltech/NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory with the University of Southern California (USC) – can be used to power a wide range of portable and mobile electronics.

Here is the green beauty of these electrochemical devices: They are capable of converting high energy density fuel (liquid methanol) directly to electricity, reports Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Corporation, a subsidiary of Viaspace, which develops disposable methanol fuel cartridges that provide the energy source for fuel cell powered notebook computers, mobile phones, military equipment and other applications being developed by electronics OEMs, such as Samsung and Toshiba.

They operate silently, at relatively low temperatures and offer much longer operating time than today’s batteries. Better than a battery, DMFCs don’t need to be recharged. They can provide electricity continuously to the consumer electronic devices as long as oxygen and fuel are supplied to the fuel cell. To achieve this, DMFCs can be “hot-swapped” and instantly recharged with replacement methanol cartridges (akin to batteries).

Methanol or a methanol/water solution is the industry’s choice of fuel. Because it is a liquid, it is easy to store and transport. Methanol is inexpensive and readily available.

Viaspace provides this detail on how the fuels cell works:

How does a DMFC Work?

The heart of a fuel cell consists of catalysts for the electrochemical reaction and a special piece of plastic that can conduct protons. The technical term for this special plastic is polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) and the most common PEM used in DMFCs today is NafionTM, produced by Dupont. The most common catalysts used are PtRu alloy for the anode and Pt for the cathode.

In the fuel cell, the fuel is not burned, but rather is converted into electricity through an electrochemical process that splits methanol into protons, electrons, and carbon dioxide at the anode and then combines these protons and electrons with oxygen at the cathode to produce water. It is a very simple concept.

As I have reported before, methanol is an alternative renewable fuel that should be embraced with open arms – from both a cost and climate standpoint.

Photo: Viaspace

Madden, Michaels show great chemistry.(Sports Weekend)

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL) September 6, 2002 Byline: Ted Cox John Madden and Al Michaels haven’t even formally begun their run as the new “Monday Night Football” announcing crew, and already they sound better than I ever would have expected. site michaels printable coupon

When they meshed instantly in the three “MNF” exhibition games they did, they were as amazed as anyone else.

“It’s been a delight,” Michaels said on a media conference call earlier this week. “I thought it might take us just a little while to get in sync. And after three games, I feel like I’ve worked with John 10 years.

“I love where it’s going and, if the first three games are any indication, it’s going to be the most enjoyable year imaginable for me.” “I knew he was bright, but he’s really bright,” Madden added of Michaels in his usual straightforward analysis. “I’m not a smoothie. I go this way and that way, and it’s just a comfortable, confident thing when you have someone who is going to make sense of everything you do.” As a TV critic, I couldn’t have put it any better. Madden is free to make the leap to “MNF” as his rambling, boisterous self, because Michaels is always there to ride herd, cut him off and keep him on a linear trail. In many ways, that’s the role Pat Summerall served with Madden in their years with CBS and Fox, except that Michaels is far more precise at this stage of his career than Summerall ever was.

Michaels couldn’t do the same with Dennis Miller, because I doubt that even Miller could make sense all the obscure references he dropped into his two years as “MNF” color man. There was no way for Michaels to rein in Miller. Yet Michaels and Madden mix well because they speak the same language and because, for all Madden’s idiosyncrasies, they’re both professionals as announcers.

Michaels is the first to voice the benefits of stability, and pointed to the 11 years he did with Dan Dierdorf and Frank Gifford as perhaps the most stable era in “MNF” history. Yet sometimes stability is overrated.

“For me, this year is perfect,” Michaels said. “I think I’ve heard John do a couple of hundred games over the years. (So) I’m listening to John, but I’m hearing a John I’ve heard for a number of years.” “What I do is reactionary,” Madden said. He reacts to the action on the field, and that basic approach to announcing didn’t figure to change with his shift to ABC and Michaels. What did change was that he got a more capable colleague. go to site michaels printable coupon

Madden and Michaels make their regular-season debut at 8 p.m. Monday on WLS Channel 7, when they do the season-opening rematch of January’s AFC title game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots. They get along so well – right down to Madden chiding Michaels for ordering onion soup without the onions – they pooh-pooh any extra pressure that might be put on them to end “MNF’s” ratings slide of the last few years.

“When it comes to doing our thing,” Michaels said, “all we can do is prepare as perfectly as possible and make the best out of every game we have.” “To be honest, I don’t even know where you’d go to look for them,” Madden said of ratings. “I always believed, don’t worry about things you can’t control. And don’t take credit for things you can’t control.” Originally, I thought Madden’s arrival would prompt ABC to adopt his no-nonsense approach. “MNF” has been guilty of going overboard and making the game a sideshow.

That said, however, he also freed “MNF” to alter its approach. Producer Fred Gaudelli, who came over from ESPN last year, actually kept the game tightly focused from a technical angle. He had to zero in on the game visually, in order to appease football fans who were driven to distraction by Miller’s comments. Now, with Madden and Michaels commenting on the game, Gaudelli has a free hand to take more of an Arne Harris approach to covering the spectacle surrounding the game.

Without citing it as an excuse, Gaudelli said part of what hurt “MNF’s” ratings last season was the natural aftermath of Sept. 11. “The effect 9-11 had on us was the effect it had on the entire country,” he said. It did make sports – even “MNF” – seem suddenly inconsequential. “Obviously, people weren’t into having fun for most of last fall,” he added. “We’ll try to recapture as much of that fun as possible.” Madden echoed that sentiment when he said what the NFL needs is “more celebrations.” He pointed to the World Cup, and the huge to- do made over each goal. “They know how to do it,” he said. “They know how to celebrate.” The NFL has been called the “no fun league” in recent years, as the powers that be have legislated celebration out of the league with penalties. Now we have Madden and “MNF,” the game’s greatest weekly showcase, perhaps urging it to move in the other direction.

Madden and Michaels are already establishing themselves as perhaps the best network crew ever to do football. Yet they’re not just good in themselves; their ability to do good, to have a beneficial impact on the league, is great as well. They could keep the game true to its combative spirit, while at the same time bringing out more of the fun. Like Michaels, I love where they’re going, and I can’t wait to see what they do with Brian Urlacher when the Bears make their overdue return to “MNF.”

About the Author

Writer, documentary producer, and director. Meyers is a contributor to CleanTechnica, and founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.
  • Micahel

    I’m sorry, but I can’ quite reconcile the terms “green technology” and “disposable modules”. They should be able to do much better than create yet another waste stream.

    However, I do agree that Methanol is a good candidate for a renewable energy carrier.

  • This post appeared today on Clean Technica. They can provide electricity continuously to the consumer electronic devices as long as oxygen and fuel are supplied to the fuel cell. Methanol is inexpensive and readily available. The most common catalysts used are PtRu alloy for the anode and Pt for the cathode. They should be able to do much better than create yet another waste stream.Great arcticle! Thank you