Diffusion and Sorption of Methanol and Water in Nafion Using Time-Resolved Fourier Transform Infrared−Attenuated Total Reflectance Spectroscopy Academic Article uri icon


  • Direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) are promising portable power sources. However, their performance diminishes significantly because of high methanol crossover (flux) in the polymer electrolyte membrane (e.g., Nafion 117) at the desired stoichiometric methanol feed concentration. In this study, the diffusion and sorption of methanol and water in Nafion 117 were measured using time-resolved Fourier transform infrared-attenuated total reflectance (FTIR-ATR) spectroscopy. This technique is unique because of its ability to measure multicomponent diffusion and sorption within a polymer on a molecular level in real time as function of concentration. Both the effective mutual diffusion coefficients and concentrations of methanol and water in Nafion 117 were determined with time-resolved FTIR-ATR spectroscopy as a function of methanol solution concentration. The methanol flux, calculated from FTIR-ATR, matched that determined from a conventional technique (permeation cell) and increased by almost 3 orders of magnitude over the methanol solution concentration range studied (0.1-16 M). Furthermore, the data obtained in this study reveal that the main contribution to the increase in methanol flux is due to methanol sorption in the membrane.

author list (cited authors)

  • Hallinan, D. T., & Elabd, Y. A.

publication date

  • January 1, 2007 11:11 AM