Energy / Climate Change

February 20, 2006


Kurita Water Industries, Ltd. Develops World's First Solid Methanol for Fuel Cells

Keywords: Environmental Technology Manufacturing industry Renewable Energy 

Kurita Water Industries Ltd. announced on October 20, 2005 that it has solved the safety and portability problems of methanol fuel by developing the world's first solid methanol. The company applies its clathrate compound technology to liquid methanol, which is used as fuel for direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs).

Unlike a conventional hydrogen-fuel cell, a DMFC uses methanol to generate electricity. This eliminates the need for a high-pressure hydrogen storage tank and a hydrogen production reformer, thereby reducing the fuel cell's size and weight. Although many consumer electronics manufacturers have been striving to apply DMFCs as the power source for portable devices such as mobile phones and laptop computers, technical problems have limited DMFC's commercial viability. One of these problems is that methanol is a volatile, flammable liquid at normal room temperature and pressure, making it a fire hazard.

The company has solved this problem by developing solid methanol using its clathrate compound technology. Solidifying methanol eliminates its volatility and thus the probability that it will be designated as a dangerous, toxic substance. It also prevents leaks, and allows methanol to be transported on board aircraft.

The company has confirmed that solid methanol releases methanol when it comes into contact with water and that DMFCs will generate electricity using this methanol as fuel. DMFCs are expected to come on the market in 2010; the company hopes to start selling the newly developed solid methanol fuel by 2007.

Posted: 2006/02/20 10:58:02 AM
Japanese version