This week, fuel cell membrane developer PolyFuel announced that its hydrocarbon DMFC (direct methanol fuel cell) membrane has passed the 5,000-hour mark in durability testing.
“Membrane durability has always been one of the key technical challenges faced by fuel cell manufacturers, as it translates directly to the lifetime of a fuel cell,” said Jim Balcom, president and CEO of PolyFuel.
In applications targeted for portable fuel cells, consumers are used to battery lifetimes in the 2,000 to 3,000 hour range for their portable devices. And electronics manufacturers and fuel cell developers see this as a crucial benchmark. So the 5,000-hour mark reached by PolyFuel is significant in that it far exceeds that lifetime requirement.
Better yet, fuel cells built with PolyFuel’s membrane continue to deliver nearly their original levels of runtime well past the 2,000 and 3,000 hour marks and are still going strong at 5,000 hours, while the charge-keeping capability of a typical lithium-ion battery degrades steadily over time and with use. For example, the runtime of a typical 4-hour laptop battery drops to only about 2.5 hours after 3,000 hours of use.
PolyFuel’s durability testing – which consists of continuous, repetitive, “real-life” on-off power cycles on an array of different prototype fuel cells – has shown no significant changes in the electro-chemical performance of its membrane, even after 5,000 hours in service.
Similar tests, with similar results, have been performed, or are underway, at a number of PolyFuel’s consumer electronics and battery manufacturer customers, according to Balcom.
A chart comparing the energy capacity of Lithium-ion Batteries (LIB) versus Direct Methanol Fuel Cells built with PolyFuel’s Hydrocarbon DMFC Membrane can be found at: http://www.polyfuel.com/pressroom/press_pr_103105_chart.html.