Direct Alcohol Fuel Cells


Direct alcohol fuel cells (DAFC) that convert the chemical energy of liquid alcohol directly into electricity. This type of fuel cell creates the potential for a simple, low-cost, compact and high energy-conversion system that is highly efficient and clean.



The scientific problems that urgently need to be addressed include:

  1. exploring and understanding the complex interplay of protons, electrons, heat/mass and the electrochemical reactions in trans-scale fuel cell systems;
  2. formulating new concepts and developing the underlying principles that govern the inherently coupled heat/mass transfer and electrochemical reactions in fuel cells; and
  3. creating an accurate and robust numerical model to realistically describe the physical and chemical processes and guide fuel cell design.

Our interdisciplinary research methodology and strategy have opened up entirely new avenues for designing novel fuel cell electrode structures with the desired physical and chemical properties.



The DAFC is a top competitor in replacing conventional batteries in portable electronic devices. It also has the potential to take over internal combustion engines in cars.



Tianshou Zhao, Chair Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering