Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.728337
Title: Polyethylene-based anion exchange membrane for alkaline fuel cell and electrolyser application : synthesis, characterisation and degradation studies
Author: Espiritu, Richard
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 7153
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2017
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Abstract:
Alkaline anion exchange membranes (AAEM) have been fabricated using polyethylene as the base polymer offering a low cost AAEM for electrolyser and fuel cell applications. This study focused on the synthesis and characterisation of AAEM with controlled degree of grafting (DOG) and ion-exchange capacity (IEC) with the following parameters investigated: low density polyethylene (LDPE) film thickness 30-130 μm, gamma radiation dose and monomer concentration. The corresponding IEC, water uptake (WU) and degree of swelling (DS) are reported. The performance of 74.6% DOG membrane in a hydrogen fuel cell showed a high open circuit voltage of 1.06 V, with a peak power density of 608 mW cm-2 at 50 °C under oxygen. The use of a membrane with a high DOG does not impact fuel cross-over significantly and provides improved fuel cell performance due to its high conductivity, water transport and resilience to dehydration. The AAEMs showed long term stability, at 80 °C, exhibiting a conductivity of ca. 0.11 S cm-1 over a period of 3300 h under nitrogen. The membrane showed a degradation rate of 5.7 and 24.3 mS kh-1 under nitrogen and oxygen, respectively. With the membrane lifetime defined as the duration of fuel cell operation until the conductivity of the membrane has reduced to a cut-off value of 0.02 S cm-1, the estimated lifetime of the membrane is 2 years under nitrogen and 5 months under oxygen operating at 80 °C. The fabricated anion exchange membranes were subjected to degradation tests in deionised water for electrolyser/fuel cell operation. After the degradation test, the decrease in ion exchange capacity (IEC) of the AEM, hence decrease in ionic conductivity, was influenced by the applied gamma radiation dose rate. The use of a high radiation dose rate produced membranes with improved stability in terms of % IEC loss due to shorter, more uniformly distributed vinylbenzyl chloride (VBC) grafts. For LDPE-based AEMs, increasing the applied radiation dose rate during grafting from 30 to 2000 Gy h-1 significantly reduced AEM % IEC loss from 38 to 11%, respectively. Analyses of both the aged functionalised membranes and their resulting degradation products confirmed the loss of not only the functional group, but also the VBC group, which has not been reported previously in the literature. Investigation of other amine functional groups revealed similar degradation via the removal of both VBC and head group. Oxidation reactions iii taking place at pH close to neutral are the main contributor to the IEC loss, in contrast to the widely reported E2 or SN2 attack on the head group in high alkalinity solutions. A parallel degradation mechanism is proposed to explain head group loss of AEMs, that involves peroxide radicals which are more dominant in low alkalinity solutions. The investigation of the degradation of a commercially available AEM (A201, Tokuyama Corp.) was performed and compared with the fabricated LDPE AEMs. Using similar membrane thickness, results revealed that the fabricated AEM exhibited superior stability to the commercial A201 membrane in terms of % IEC loss and ionic conductivity, both in fuel cell and electrolyser modes. It is believed that the faster degradation rate of the A201 membrane could possibly be due to the attack of OH- ions on both the head group and on the polymer backbone, the latter of which was not observed on the fabricated AEMs.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) ; Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.728337  DOI: Not available
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