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Title: Alternate Fuel Cell Membranes for Energy Independence

Abstract

The overall objective of this project was the development and evaluation of novel hydrocarbon fuel cell (FC) membranes that possess high temperature performance and long term chemical/mechanical durability in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells (FC). The major research theme was synthesis of aromatic hydrocarbon polymers of the poly(arylene ether sulfone) (PAES) type containing sulfonic acid groups tethered to the backbone via perfluorinated alkylene linkages and in some cases also directly attached to the phenylene groups along the backbone. Other research themes were the use of nitrogen-based heterocyclics instead of acid groups for proton conduction, which provides high temperature, low relative humidity membranes with high mechanical/thermal/chemical stability and pendant moieties that exhibit high proton conductivities in the absence of water, and synthesis of block copolymers consisting of a proton conducting block coupled to poly(perfluorinated propylene oxide) (PFPO) blocks. Accomplishments of the project were as follows: 1) establishment of a vertically integrated program of synthesis, characterization, and evaluation of FC membranes, 2) establishment of benchmark membrane performance data based on Nafion for comparison to experimental membrane performance, 3) development of a new perfluoroalkyl sulfonate monomer, N,N-diisopropylethylammonium 2,2-bis(p-hydroxyphenyl) pentafluoropropanesulfonate (HPPS), 4) synthesis of random and block copolymer membranes from HPPS, 5) synthesismore » of block copolymer membranes containing high-acid-concentration hydrophilic blocks consisting of HPPS and 3,3'-disulfonate-4,4'-dichlorodiphenylsulfone (sDCDPS), 6) development of synthetic routes to aromatic polymer backbones containing pendent 1H-1,2,3-triazole moieties, 7) development of coupling strategies to create phase-separated block copolymers between hydrophilic sulfonated prepolymers and commodity polymers such as PFPO, 8) establishment of basic performance properties of experimental membranes, 9) fabrication and FC performance testing of membrane electrode assemblies (MEA) from experimental membranes, and 10) measurement of ex situ and in situ membrane durability of experimental membranes. Although none of the experimental hydrocarbon membranes that issued from the project displayed proton conductivities that met DOE requirements, the project contributed to our basic understanding of membrane structure-property relationships in a number of key respects. An important finding of the benchmark studies is that physical degradation associated with humidity and temperature variations in the FC tend to open new fuel crossover pathways and act synergistically with chemical degradation to accelerate overall membrane degradation. Thus, for long term membrane survival and efficient fuel utilization, membranes must withstand internal stresses due to humidity and temperature changes. In this respect, rigid aromatic hydrocarbon fuel cell membranes, e.g. PAES, offer an advantage over un-modified Nafion membranes. The benchmark studies also showed that broadband dielectric spectroscopy is a potentially powerful tool in assessing shifts in the fundamental macromolecular dynamics caused by Nafion chemical degradation, and thus, this technique is of relevance in interrogating proton exchange membrane durability in fuel cells and macromolecular dynamics as coupled to proton migration, which is of fundamental relevance in proton exchange membranes in fuel cells. A key finding from the hydrocarbon membrane synthesis effort was that rigid aromatic polymers containing isolated ion exchange groups tethered tightly to the backbone (short tether), such as HPPS, provide excellent mechanical and durability properties but do not provide sufficient conductivity, in either random or block configuration, when used as the sole ion exchange monomer. However, we continue to hypothesize that longer tethers, and tethered groups spaced more closely within the hydrophilic chain elements of the polymer, will yield highly conductive materials with excellent mechanical properties. Another key finding is the superior performance of PAES membranes upon being subjected to open circuit voltage (OCV) testing. Throughout the course of the experiment, OCV for the PAES not only stayed higher but also decayed at a much lower rate, which is attributed to better dimensional stability and improved mechanical and gas barrier properties. The rigid backbone reinforcement of PAES adds gas diffusion tortuosity that restricts membrane degradation and OCV loss due to reduced fuel crossover. The overall results of creep, contractile stress and mechanical tensile tests confirm the conclusion that degraded MEAs of PAES membrane can handle stress and are more likely to be more durable in a fuel cell, even after subjected to 62h of OCV degradation.« less

Authors:
; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS 39406
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1057540
Report Number(s):
DOE/GO/88106
DOE Contract Number:  
FG36-08GO88106
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 08 HYDROGEN; fuel cell; membrane; Nafion; poly(arylene ether sulfone)

Citation Formats

Storey, Robson, F., Mauritz, Kenneth, A., Patton, Derek, L., and Savin, Daniel, A. Alternate Fuel Cell Membranes for Energy Independence. United States: N. p., 2012. Web. doi:10.2172/1057540.
Storey, Robson, F., Mauritz, Kenneth, A., Patton, Derek, L., & Savin, Daniel, A. Alternate Fuel Cell Membranes for Energy Independence. United States. doi:10.2172/1057540.
Storey, Robson, F., Mauritz, Kenneth, A., Patton, Derek, L., and Savin, Daniel, A. Tue . "Alternate Fuel Cell Membranes for Energy Independence". United States. doi:10.2172/1057540. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1057540.
@article{osti_1057540,
title = {Alternate Fuel Cell Membranes for Energy Independence},
author = {Storey, Robson, F. and Mauritz, Kenneth, A. and Patton, Derek, L. and Savin, Daniel, A.},
abstractNote = {The overall objective of this project was the development and evaluation of novel hydrocarbon fuel cell (FC) membranes that possess high temperature performance and long term chemical/mechanical durability in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells (FC). The major research theme was synthesis of aromatic hydrocarbon polymers of the poly(arylene ether sulfone) (PAES) type containing sulfonic acid groups tethered to the backbone via perfluorinated alkylene linkages and in some cases also directly attached to the phenylene groups along the backbone. Other research themes were the use of nitrogen-based heterocyclics instead of acid groups for proton conduction, which provides high temperature, low relative humidity membranes with high mechanical/thermal/chemical stability and pendant moieties that exhibit high proton conductivities in the absence of water, and synthesis of block copolymers consisting of a proton conducting block coupled to poly(perfluorinated propylene oxide) (PFPO) blocks. Accomplishments of the project were as follows: 1) establishment of a vertically integrated program of synthesis, characterization, and evaluation of FC membranes, 2) establishment of benchmark membrane performance data based on Nafion for comparison to experimental membrane performance, 3) development of a new perfluoroalkyl sulfonate monomer, N,N-diisopropylethylammonium 2,2-bis(p-hydroxyphenyl) pentafluoropropanesulfonate (HPPS), 4) synthesis of random and block copolymer membranes from HPPS, 5) synthesis of block copolymer membranes containing high-acid-concentration hydrophilic blocks consisting of HPPS and 3,3'-disulfonate-4,4'-dichlorodiphenylsulfone (sDCDPS), 6) development of synthetic routes to aromatic polymer backbones containing pendent 1H-1,2,3-triazole moieties, 7) development of coupling strategies to create phase-separated block copolymers between hydrophilic sulfonated prepolymers and commodity polymers such as PFPO, 8) establishment of basic performance properties of experimental membranes, 9) fabrication and FC performance testing of membrane electrode assemblies (MEA) from experimental membranes, and 10) measurement of ex situ and in situ membrane durability of experimental membranes. Although none of the experimental hydrocarbon membranes that issued from the project displayed proton conductivities that met DOE requirements, the project contributed to our basic understanding of membrane structure-property relationships in a number of key respects. An important finding of the benchmark studies is that physical degradation associated with humidity and temperature variations in the FC tend to open new fuel crossover pathways and act synergistically with chemical degradation to accelerate overall membrane degradation. Thus, for long term membrane survival and efficient fuel utilization, membranes must withstand internal stresses due to humidity and temperature changes. In this respect, rigid aromatic hydrocarbon fuel cell membranes, e.g. PAES, offer an advantage over un-modified Nafion membranes. The benchmark studies also showed that broadband dielectric spectroscopy is a potentially powerful tool in assessing shifts in the fundamental macromolecular dynamics caused by Nafion chemical degradation, and thus, this technique is of relevance in interrogating proton exchange membrane durability in fuel cells and macromolecular dynamics as coupled to proton migration, which is of fundamental relevance in proton exchange membranes in fuel cells. A key finding from the hydrocarbon membrane synthesis effort was that rigid aromatic polymers containing isolated ion exchange groups tethered tightly to the backbone (short tether), such as HPPS, provide excellent mechanical and durability properties but do not provide sufficient conductivity, in either random or block configuration, when used as the sole ion exchange monomer. However, we continue to hypothesize that longer tethers, and tethered groups spaced more closely within the hydrophilic chain elements of the polymer, will yield highly conductive materials with excellent mechanical properties. Another key finding is the superior performance of PAES membranes upon being subjected to open circuit voltage (OCV) testing. Throughout the course of the experiment, OCV for the PAES not only stayed higher but also decayed at a much lower rate, which is attributed to better dimensional stability and improved mechanical and gas barrier properties. The rigid backbone reinforcement of PAES adds gas diffusion tortuosity that restricts membrane degradation and OCV loss due to reduced fuel crossover. The overall results of creep, contractile stress and mechanical tensile tests confirm the conclusion that degraded MEAs of PAES membrane can handle stress and are more likely to be more durable in a fuel cell, even after subjected to 62h of OCV degradation.},
doi = {10.2172/1057540},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2012},
month = {12}
}