Date of Award

Spring 2008

Project Type


Program or Major

Chemical Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science


An automated single-cell fuel cell system has been designed and fabricated in this work. The apparatus is capable of operating on both hydrogen and methanol fuels, and can control the mass flow rates and humidity of the inlet gases, and temperature and pressure of the cell with a LabVIEW program. A series of experiments are conducted to determine the optimum cell operating temperature (75°C), methanol concentration (4 molar), methanol flow rate (3 mL/min) and catalyst loading on Gas Diffusion Layers (GDLs) (∼2.5 mg/cm2). A new anode GDL is fabricated by optimizing the hydrophobicity in the substrate and microporous layer (MPL), as well as the MPL loading. The key factors for improved cathode performance are found to be thickness and basis weight. One of the end results of this work is a new GDL system, which is manufactured continuously at low cost, providing improved cell performance compared to a commercial standard.