Study of Anion Exchange Membranes for Fuel Cells

David Wang Auditorium, 3rd floor Dalia Maydan Bldg.
Alina Amel, Ph.D Candidate Department of Materials Science

Alina Amel, Ph.D Candidate Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Technion- Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa Israel 3200003

Fuel cell technology has been recognized as a promising clean energy conversion technology in next-generation energy systems. Fuel cells have been undergoing revolutionary developments in the last few decades. Recently, there has been growing interest in anion exchange membranes for use in electrochemical systems such as alkaline anion exchange fuel cell devices. Anion exchange membranes generate an alkaline environment internal to the device, which gives the opportunity to use platinum free as well as non-precious metal catalysts for electrochemical conversion in these processes, substantially reducing the device costs. At present, anion exchange membranes are facing many obstacles to the use of including low chemical stability in alkaline environment, low ionic conductivity and water management issues. In this research, we studied and derived some in-depth understanding of these pivotal challenges. The properties and the chemical stability of quaternary ammonium based anion exchange membranes containing aliphatic and aromatic backbones were investigated. The presence of electron-withdrawing group in the backbone of the membrane and its influence on the membrane’s properties as well as its chemical stability in the alkaline environment was investigated.  Another aspect concerning water management was studied; this subject was studied by considering different types of polar and hydrophobic cross-linkers, and their effect on the membrane’s conductivity and water absorbance ability. Conductivity was evaluated with the use of the Cl- and HCO3- anionic membrane forms. The membranes were characterized and computational modeled in order to understand the conductivity mechanism and the relevant parameters limiting ion transport in these materials.  Advisor: Prof. Yair Ein-Eli