Novel two-polymer membrane boosts hydrogen gasoline cell efficiency – PSC SOLAR UK BLOG


A significant part of the effort to achieve a sustainable world has gone into developing hydrogen fuel cells to achieve a hydrogen economy. Fuel cells have special advantages: high efficiency in energy conversion (up to 70%) and a clean by-product, water.

In the past decade, anion exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFC), which convert chemical energy to electrical energy by transporting negatively charged ions (anions) through a membrane, have received attention because of their low cost and relative environmental friendliness compared to other types of fuel cells.

AEMFCs, while inexpensive, have several major disadvantages, such as: B. low ionic conductivity, low chemical stability of the membrane and an overall lower performance rate than their counterparts. In a study published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A, scientists from Korea report a novel membrane that is both thin and strong and that overcomes these disadvantages.

To develop their membrane, the scientists used a novel method: They chemically bound two commercially available polymers, poly (2,6-dimethyl-1,4-phenylene oxide) (PPO) and poly (styrene-b- (ethylene-co-) Butylene) -b-styrene) (SEBS) without the use of a crosslinking agent.

Incheon National University’s professor Tae-Hyun Kim, who led the study, explains, “In a previous study, a similar attempt was made to make anion exchange membranes (AEMs) by cross-linking PPO and SEBS with diamine as the cross-linking agent. While the AEMs showed excellent mechanical stability, the use of diamine could have led to reactions other than those between PPO and SEBS, making it difficult to control the properties of the resulting membrane.

Therefore, in our study, we crosslinked PPO and SEBS without crosslinking agents to ensure that only PPO and SEBS react with each other. “Prof. Kim’s team’s strategy also included adding a compound called triazole to PPO to increase the membrane’s ionic conductivity.

Membranes made with this method were up to 10 µm thin and had excellent mechanical strength, chemical stability and conductivity at even 95% room humidity. Together, these gave the membrane and the corresponding fuel cell on which the scientists tested their membrane a high overall performance. When operated at 60 ° C, this fuel cell exhibited stable performance for 300 hours with a maximum power density that surpassed that of existing commercial AEMs and the matching state-of-the-art.

Prof. Kim is enthusiastic about the future prospects of this novel, promising AEM: “The polymer electrolyte membranes in our study can be applied not only to fuel cells that generate energy, but also to water electrolysis technology that generates hydrogen. So I believe this research will play an important role in revitalizing the domestic hydrogen economy. “

Perhaps this clean and green world that we imagine is not far away!

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