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Influence of the ethanol dehydrogenation by-products in the kinetics of hydrogen oxidation reaction in PEM fuel cells

Grant number: 14/06213-9
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2014
Effective date (End): June 30, 2015
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry - Physical-Chemistry
Cooperation agreement: Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES)
Principal Investigator:Edson Antonio Ticianelli
Grantee:Ana Laura Gonçalves Biancolli
Home Institution: Instituto de Química de São Carlos (IQSC). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Carlos , SP, Brazil


The development of methods to produce clean hydrogen and alternative fuels for use in fuel cells has been a big challenge for those looking for sources of clean and renewable electric energy to supply demands of electric vehicles, cellphones and other devices. Recently, a system was developed in our laboratory in which ethanol is dehydrogenated in a reactor coupled to a PEM fuel cell, so that the resultant hydrogen produced from this reaction is used as fuel. The cell efficiency was 70% of that of a cell fed with pure hydrogen. The reason for this loss of efficiency is not yet understood and this is the focus of the study proposed here. Research on the effect of contamination of PEM cells by various impurities, such as CO, methanol, formic acid, etc., has already been made, but, so far, nothing is found about the influence of the byproducts of the ethanol dehydrogenation reaction (unreacted ethanol, acetaldehyde, ethyl acetate, crotonaldehyde, acetone, butanol and butanone) in this type of cell. Here, a new research strand is proposed, where the hydrogen will be contaminated by the ethanol dehydrogenation byproducts and their influence on the performance of a PEMFC will be investigated for three anode catalysts composed by Pt/C, Pt-Sn/C and Pt-W/C. The main goal of the investigation is to get understandings of how these impurities affect the performance of the anode and, after that, to propose new catalysts and/or systems to minimize their effects. (AU)