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Title: High Temperature, Low Relative Humidity, Polymer-type Membranes Based on Disulfonated Poly(arylene ether) Block and Random Copolymers Optionally Incorporating Protonic Conducting Layered Water insoluble Zirconium Fillers

Abstract

Our research group has been engaged in the past few years in the synthesis of biphenol based partially disulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone) random copolymers as potential PEMs. This series of polymers are named as BPSH-xx, where BP stands for biphenol, S stands for sulfonated, H stands for acidified and xx represents the degree of disulfonation. All of these sulfonated copolymers phase separate to form nano scale hydrophilic and hydrophobic morphological domains. The hydrophilic phase containing the sulfonic acid moieties causes the copolymer to absorb water. Water confined in hydrophilic pores in concert with the sulfonic acid groups serve the critical function of proton (ion) conduction and water transport in these systems. Both Nafion and BPSH show high proton conductivity at fully hydrated conditions. However proton transport is especially limited at low hydration level for the BPSH random copolymer. It has been observed that the diffusion coefficients of both water and protons change with the water content of the pore. This change in proton and water transport mechanisms with hydration level has been attributed to the solvation of the acid groups and the amount of bound and bulk-like water within a pore. At low hydration levels most of the water ismore » tightly associated with sulfonic groups and has a low diffusion coefficient. This tends to encourage isolated domain morphology. Thus, although there may be significant concentrations of protons, the transport is limited by the discontinuous morphological structure. Hence the challenge lies in how to modify the chemistry of the polymers to obtain significant protonic conductivity at low hydration levels. This may be possible if one can alter the chemical structure to synthesize nanophase separated ion containing block copolymers. Unlike the BPSH copolymers, where the sulfonic acid groups are randomly distributed along the chain, the multiblock copolymers will feature an ordered sequence of hydrophilic and hydrophobic segments. If, like in Nafion, connectivity is established between the hydrophilic domains in these multiblock copolymers, they will not need as much water, and hence will show much better protonic conductivity than the random copolymers (with similar degree of sulfonation, or IEC) at partially hydrated conditions. The goal of this research is to develop a material suitable for use as a polymer electrolyte membrane which by the year 2010 will meet all the performance requirements associated with fuel cell operation at high temperatures and low relative humidity, and will out-perform the present standard Nafion{reg_sign}. In particular, it is our objective to extend our previous research based on the use of thermally, oxidatively, and hydrolytically, ductile, high Tg ion containing polymers based on poly(arylene ethers) to the production of polymer electrolyte membranes which will meet all the performance requirements in addition to having an areal resistance of < 0.05 ohm-cm{sup 2} at a temperature of up to 120 C, relative humidity of 25 to 50%, and up to 2.5 atm total pressure. In many instances, our materials already out performs Nafion{reg_sign}, and it is expected that with some modification by either combining with conductive inorganic fillers and/or synthesizing as a block copolymer it will meet the performance criteria at high temperatures and low relative humidity. A key component in improving the performance of the membranes (and in particular proton conductivity) and meeting the cost requirements of $40/m{sup 2} is our development of a film casting process, which shows promise for generation of void free thin films of uniform thickness with controlled polymer alignment and configuration.« less

Authors:
;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Sponsoring Org.:
EERE Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Infrastructure Program
OSTI Identifier:
1014911
Report Number(s):
DOE-GO16038
TRN: US201111%%724
DOE Contract Number:  
FG36-06GO16038
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
30 DIRECT ENERGY CONVERSION; COPOLYMERS; DIFFUSION; ELECTROLYTES; ETHERS; FILLERS; FUEL CELLS; HUMIDITY; HYDRATION; MEMBRANES; MORPHOLOGY; POLYMERS; PROTON CONDUCTIVITY; PROTON TRANSPORT; PROTONS; SOLVATION; SULFONATION; SULFONIC ACIDS; SYNTHESIS; THIN FILMS; WATER; ZIRCONIUM; PEM, membrane, high temperature, multi-block copolymer,

Citation Formats

McGrath, James E, and Baird, Donald G. High Temperature, Low Relative Humidity, Polymer-type Membranes Based on Disulfonated Poly(arylene ether) Block and Random Copolymers Optionally Incorporating Protonic Conducting Layered Water insoluble Zirconium Fillers. United States: N. p., 2010. Web. doi:10.2172/1014911.
McGrath, James E, & Baird, Donald G. High Temperature, Low Relative Humidity, Polymer-type Membranes Based on Disulfonated Poly(arylene ether) Block and Random Copolymers Optionally Incorporating Protonic Conducting Layered Water insoluble Zirconium Fillers. United States. doi:10.2172/1014911.
McGrath, James E, and Baird, Donald G. Thu . "High Temperature, Low Relative Humidity, Polymer-type Membranes Based on Disulfonated Poly(arylene ether) Block and Random Copolymers Optionally Incorporating Protonic Conducting Layered Water insoluble Zirconium Fillers". United States. doi:10.2172/1014911. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1014911.
@article{osti_1014911,
title = {High Temperature, Low Relative Humidity, Polymer-type Membranes Based on Disulfonated Poly(arylene ether) Block and Random Copolymers Optionally Incorporating Protonic Conducting Layered Water insoluble Zirconium Fillers},
author = {McGrath, James E and Baird, Donald G},
abstractNote = {Our research group has been engaged in the past few years in the synthesis of biphenol based partially disulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone) random copolymers as potential PEMs. This series of polymers are named as BPSH-xx, where BP stands for biphenol, S stands for sulfonated, H stands for acidified and xx represents the degree of disulfonation. All of these sulfonated copolymers phase separate to form nano scale hydrophilic and hydrophobic morphological domains. The hydrophilic phase containing the sulfonic acid moieties causes the copolymer to absorb water. Water confined in hydrophilic pores in concert with the sulfonic acid groups serve the critical function of proton (ion) conduction and water transport in these systems. Both Nafion and BPSH show high proton conductivity at fully hydrated conditions. However proton transport is especially limited at low hydration level for the BPSH random copolymer. It has been observed that the diffusion coefficients of both water and protons change with the water content of the pore. This change in proton and water transport mechanisms with hydration level has been attributed to the solvation of the acid groups and the amount of bound and bulk-like water within a pore. At low hydration levels most of the water is tightly associated with sulfonic groups and has a low diffusion coefficient. This tends to encourage isolated domain morphology. Thus, although there may be significant concentrations of protons, the transport is limited by the discontinuous morphological structure. Hence the challenge lies in how to modify the chemistry of the polymers to obtain significant protonic conductivity at low hydration levels. This may be possible if one can alter the chemical structure to synthesize nanophase separated ion containing block copolymers. Unlike the BPSH copolymers, where the sulfonic acid groups are randomly distributed along the chain, the multiblock copolymers will feature an ordered sequence of hydrophilic and hydrophobic segments. If, like in Nafion, connectivity is established between the hydrophilic domains in these multiblock copolymers, they will not need as much water, and hence will show much better protonic conductivity than the random copolymers (with similar degree of sulfonation, or IEC) at partially hydrated conditions. The goal of this research is to develop a material suitable for use as a polymer electrolyte membrane which by the year 2010 will meet all the performance requirements associated with fuel cell operation at high temperatures and low relative humidity, and will out-perform the present standard Nafion{reg_sign}. In particular, it is our objective to extend our previous research based on the use of thermally, oxidatively, and hydrolytically, ductile, high Tg ion containing polymers based on poly(arylene ethers) to the production of polymer electrolyte membranes which will meet all the performance requirements in addition to having an areal resistance of < 0.05 ohm-cm{sup 2} at a temperature of up to 120 C, relative humidity of 25 to 50%, and up to 2.5 atm total pressure. In many instances, our materials already out performs Nafion{reg_sign}, and it is expected that with some modification by either combining with conductive inorganic fillers and/or synthesizing as a block copolymer it will meet the performance criteria at high temperatures and low relative humidity. A key component in improving the performance of the membranes (and in particular proton conductivity) and meeting the cost requirements of $40/m{sup 2} is our development of a film casting process, which shows promise for generation of void free thin films of uniform thickness with controlled polymer alignment and configuration.},
doi = {10.2172/1014911},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2010},
month = {6}
}