Pervaporation membranes in direct methanol fuel cells

Bryan S. Pivovar, Yuxin Wang, Edward L Cussler Jr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

411 Scopus citations


The membranes in direct methanol fuel cells must both conduct protons and serve as a barrier for methanol. Nafion, the most common fuel cell membrane, is an excellent conductor but a poor barrier. Polyvinyl alcohol pervaporation membranes are good methanol barriers but poor conductors. These and most other pervaporation membranes offer no significant advantages over Nafion in methanol fuel cell applications. However, polybenzimidazole membranes have demonstrated characteristics that suggest up to a 15-fold improvement in direct methanol fuel cells. This improvement may be due to an alternate form of proton conduction in which protons travel via a Grotthus or 'hopping' mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-162
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 17 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was primarily supported by the Department of Defense, grant DAAH04-95-0094. Other support came from the National Science Foundation, grants CTS95-28755 and CTS96-27361.


  • Barrier membranes
  • Batteries
  • Fuel cells
  • Solubility and partioning


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