Durable, Low-cost, Improved Fuel Cell Membranes

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The development of low cost, durable membranes and membranes electrode assemblies (MEAs) that operate under reduced relative humidity (RH) conditions remain a critical challenge for the successful introduction of fuel cells into mass markets. It was the goal of the team lead by Arkema, Inc. to address these shortages. Thus, this project addresses the following technical barriers from the fuel cells section of the Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Infrastructure Technologies Program Multi-Year Research, Development and Demonstration Plan: (A) Durability (B) Cost Arkema’s approach consisted of using blends of polyvinylidenefluoride (PVDF) and proprietary sulfonated polyelectrolytes. In the traditional approach to polyelectrolytes ... continued below

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Roger, Chris; Mountz, David; He, Wensheng & Zhang, Tao March 17, 2011.

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Description

The development of low cost, durable membranes and membranes electrode assemblies (MEAs) that operate under reduced relative humidity (RH) conditions remain a critical challenge for the successful introduction of fuel cells into mass markets. It was the goal of the team lead by Arkema, Inc. to address these shortages. Thus, this project addresses the following technical barriers from the fuel cells section of the Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Infrastructure Technologies Program Multi-Year Research, Development and Demonstration Plan: (A) Durability (B) Cost Arkema’s approach consisted of using blends of polyvinylidenefluoride (PVDF) and proprietary sulfonated polyelectrolytes. In the traditional approach to polyelectrolytes for proton exchange membranes (PEM), all the required properties are “packaged” in one macromolecule. The properties of interest include proton conductivity, mechanical properties, durability, and water/gas transport. This is the case, for example, for perfluorosulfonic acid-containing (PFSA) membranes. However, the cost of these materials is high, largely due to the complexity and the number of steps involved in their synthesis. In addition, they suffer other shortcomings such as mediocre mechanical properties and insufficient durability for some applications. The strength and originality of Arkema’s approach lies in the decoupling of ion conductivity from the other requirements. Kynar® PVDF provides an exceptional combination of properties that make it ideally suited for a membrane matrix (Kynar® is a registered trademark of Arkema Inc.). It exhibits outstanding chemical resistance in highly oxidative and acidic environments. In work with a prior grant, a membrane known as M41 was developed by Arkema. M41 had many of the properties needed for a high performance PEM, but had a significant deficiency in conductivity at low RH. In the first phase of this work, the processing parameters of M41 were explored as a means to increase its proton conductivity. Optimizing the processing of M41 was found to increase its proton conductivity by almost an order of magnitude at 50% RH. Characterization of the membrane morphology with Karren More at Oak Ridge National Laboratory showed that the membrane morphology was complex. This technology platform was dubbed M43 and was used as a baseline in the majority of the work on the project. Although its performance was superior to M41, M43 still showed proton conductivity an order of magnitude lower than that of a PFSA membrane at 50% RH. The MEA performance of M43 could be increased by reducing the thickness from 1 to 0.6 mils. However, the performance of the thinner M43 still did not match that of a PFSA membrane.

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  • Report No.: DOE17008
  • Grant Number: FG36-07GO17008
  • DOI: 10.2172/1018315 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1018315
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc833775

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Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • March 17, 2011

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  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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Roger, Chris; Mountz, David; He, Wensheng & Zhang, Tao. Durable, Low-cost, Improved Fuel Cell Membranes, report, March 17, 2011; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc833775/: accessed October 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.