The performance of a new methanol fuel cell that utilizes a liquid formic acid electrolyte, named the formic acid electrolyte-direct methanol fuel cell (FAE-DMFC) is experimentally investigated. This fuel cell type has the capability of recycling/washing away methanol, without the need of methanol-electrolyte separation. Three fuel cell configurations were examined: a flowing electrolyte and two circulating electrolyte configurations. From these three configurations, the flowing electrolyte and the circulating electrolyte, with the electrolyte outlet routed to the anode inlet, provided the most stable power output, where minimal decay in performance and less than 3% and 5.6% variation in power output were observed in the respective configurations. The flowing electrolyte configuration also yielded the greatest power output by as much as 34%. Furthermore, for the flowing electrolyte configuration, several key operating conditions were experimentally tested to determine the optimal operating points. It was found that an inlet concentration of 2.2 M methanol and 6.5 M formic acid, as along with a cell temperature of 52.8 °C provided the best performance. Since this fuel cell has a low optimal operating temperature, this fuel cell has potential applications for handheld portable devices.

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