Water management is an important challenge in portable direct methanol fuel cells. Reducing the water and methanol loss from the anode to the cathode enables the use of highly concentrated methanol solutions to achieve enhanced performances. In this work, the results of a simulation study using a previous developed model for DMFCs are presented. Particular attention is devoted to the water distribution across the cell. The influence of different parameters (such as the cathode relative humidity (RH), the methanol concentration and the membrane, catalyst layer and diffusion media thicknesses) over the water transport and on the cell performance is studied. The analytical solutions of the net water transport coefficient, for different values of the cathode relative humidity are successfully compared with recent published experimental data putting in evidence that humidified cathodes contribute to a decrease on the water crossover. As a result of the modelling results, a tailored MEA build-up with the common available commercial materials is proposed to achieve low methanol and water crossover and high power density, operating at relatively high methanol concentrations. A thick anode catalyst layer to promote methanol oxidation, a thin anode gas diffusion layer as methanol carrier to the catalyst layer and a thin polymer membrane to lower the water crossover coefficient between the anode and cathode are suggested.
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