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A proven technology, DMFC has been heralded as the power source of the future. Fuel cells produce electricity from potential chemical energy without combustion, through an electrochemical process that combines oxygen and hydrogen to produce electricity, heat, and water. Unlike other types of fuel cells (like generic Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cells) which require pure hydrogen as a fuel, Direct Methanol Fuel Cells enable this electrochemical process without the need to reform complex hydrocarbon fuel molecules (including methanol) into pure hydrogen.
Developing nations need reliable power in their cities, villages, and homes. Direct Methanol Fuel Cells are ideal for power generation, either connected to the electric grid to provide supplemental power and backup assurance for critical areas, or installed as a grid-independent generator for on-site service in areas that are inaccessible by power lines. The average home operates on two to three kilowatts per day for all its electrical needs. The refrigerator runs twenty-four hours per day to prevent food spoilage and uses power accordingly. Small stand-alone, seven to ten kilowatt per hour DMFC generators emit no pollutants as a byproduct and can be used to provide hot water or space heating for a home.
All the major automotive manufacturers have a fuel cell vehicle either in development or in testing right now. Honda and Toyota have already begun leasing vehicles in California and Japan. Automakers and experts speculate that the DMFC fuel cell vehicles will be widely commercialized by 2010. Direct Methanol Fuel Cell technology, DMFC, is being incorporated into buses, trains, scooters and golf carts on a faster time line.
Possibly the most wide spread uses of Direct Methanol Fuel Cell technology, DMFC, are in the area of portable power. Also known as Micro Fuel Cells, Direct Methanol Fuel Cells, DMFC, will change the telecommuting world, powering laptops and palm pilots hours longer than batteries and allowing up to a month of talk time on a cellular phone. Other applications for micro DMFC fuel cells include pagers, video recorders, portable power tools, and low power remote devices such as hearing aids, smoke detectors, burglar alarms, hotel locks and meter readers.
A Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) works by creating thermodynamic potential out of the chemical reaction between methanol and air in a specific manner. Without the aid of moving parts, Direct Methanol Fuel Cells produce electricity through an electrochemical process, without combustion and without the need to reform the fuel stock into hydrogen or expose hydrogen in a gaseous state to the Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM). The advantage of a Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) over a tradition battery is that a Direct Methanol Fuel Cell can simply be refilled with more fuel when it runs out. A fuel cell is an energy- producing device while a battery is an energy- storing device. Direct Methanol Fuel Cells only require externally added fuel to run. As long as fuel and air are supplied to the DMFC, it will continue to produce power. It does not need to be recharged.