Advancements in Anion Exchange Membrane Cations

Wednesday, October 14, 2015: 16:00
212-A (Phoenix Convention Center)
M. R. Sturgeon, H. Long, A. M. Park (National Renewable Energy Laboratory), and B. S. Pivovar (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)
Anion-exchange membrane fuel cells (AME-FCs) are of increasingly popular interest as they enable the use of non-Pt fuel cell catalysts, the primary cost limitation of proton exchange membrane fuel cells.  Benzyltrimethyl ammonium (BTMA) is the standard cation that has historically been utilized as the hydroxide conductor in AEMs. Herein we approach AEMs from two directions. First and foremost we study the stability of several different cations in a hydroxide solution at elevated temperatures. We specifically targeted BTMA and methoxy and nitro substituted BTMA. We've also studied the effects of adding an akyl spacer units between the ammonium cation and the phenyl group. In the second approach we use computational studies to predict stable ammonium cations, which are then synthesized and tested for stability. Our unique method to study cation stability in caustic conditions at elevated temperatures utilizes Teflon Parr reactors suitable for use under various temperatures and cation concentrations. NMR analysis was used to determine remaining cation concentrations at specific time points with GCMS analysis verifying product distribution.  We then compare the experimental results with calculated modeling stabilities. Our studies show that the electron donating methoxy groups slightly increase stability (compared to that of BTMA), while the electron withdrawing nitro groups greatly decrease stability in base. These results give insight into possible linking strategies to be employed when tethering a BTMA like ammonium cation to a polymeric backbone; thus synthesizing an anion exchange membrane.

Utilizing various strategies, several different cations were tethered to perfluoro polymers to produce membranes. These membranes are then ion exchanged to obtain hydroxide conductivities. In addition to conductivities, membrane stability lifetimes were also measured using a similar technique to cation stabilities.