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Title: Cellulose nanocrystal-based composite electrolyte with superior dimensional stability for alkaline fuel cell membranes

Cellulose nanocrystal (CNC)-based composite films were prepared as a solid electrolyte for alkaline fuel cells. Poly (vinyl alcohol) (PVA) and silica gel hybrid was used to bind the CNCs to form a robust composite film. The mass ratio (i.e., 1 : 1, 1 : 2) of PVA and silica gel was tuned to control the hydrophobicity of the resulting films. Composite films with a range of CNC content (i.e., 20 to 60%) were prepared to demonstrate the impact of CNC on the performance of these materials as a solid electrolyte for alkaline fuel cells. Different from previously reported cross-linked polymer films, CNC-based composite films with 40% hydrophobic binder (i.e., PVA : silica gel=1 : 2) exhibited simultaneous low water swelling (e.g., ~5%) and high water uptake (e.g., ~80%) due to the hydrophilicity and extraordinary dimensional stability of CNC. It also showed a conductivity of 0.044 and 0.065 S/cm at 20 and 60 oC, respectively. To the best of our knowledge, the film with 60% CNC and 40% binder is characterized by the lowest hydroxide conductivity-normalized swelling ratio. Decreased CNC content (i.e., 40 and 20%) resulted in comparable hydroxide conductivity but a greater swelling ratio. These results demonstrate the advantage ofmore » CNC as a key component for a solid electrolyte for alkaline fuel cells over conventional polymers, suggesting the great potential of CNCs in improving the dimensional stability while maintaining the conductivity of existing anion exchange membranes.« less
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  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Materials Chemistry. A
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 3; Journal Issue: 25; Journal ID: ISSN 2050-7488
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States