ABSTRACT: Anion exchange membranes (AEMs) find widespread applications as an electrolyte and/or electrode binder in fuel cells, electrodialysis stacks, flow and metal-air batteries, and electrolyzers. AEMs exhibit poor stability in alkaline media; their degradation is induced by the hydroxide ion, a potent nucleophile. We have used 2D NMR techniques to investigate polymer backbone stability (as opposed to cation stability) of the AEM in alkaline media. We report the mechanism behind a peculiar, often-observed phenomenon, wherein a demonstrably stable polysulfone backbone degrades rapidly in alkaline solutions upon derivatization with alkaline stable fixed cation groups. Using COSY and heteronuclear multiple quantum correlation spectroscopy (2D NMR), we unequivocally demonstrate that the added cation group triggers degradation of the polymer backbone in alkaline via quaternary carbon hydrolysis and ether hydrolysis, leading to rapid failure. This finding challenges the existing perception that having a stable cation moiety is sufficient to yield a stable AEM and emphasizes the importance of the often ignored issue of backbone stability.
Project description:A high-performance anion exchange membrane (AEM) is critical for the development of alkaline fuel cell. In this work, AEMs with an interpenetrating polymer network (IPN) are synthesized. An electron microscope clearly reveals a highly efficient "ion channel" network, which is constructed with a small amount of cation exchange groups. This specially designed ion channel leads to extraordinary hydroxide conductivity (e.g., 257.8?mS cm-1 at 80 °C) of IPN AEMs at moderate ion exchange capacity (IEC = 1.75?mmol?g-1), as well as excellent long-term alkaline stability at harsh condition which showed that 81% of original conductivity can be retained after a long time for 1248?hours. Moreover, a remarkable peak power density of 1.20 W?cm-2 (0.1?MPa backpressure) with nonprecious metal (FeNx-CNTs) as oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) catalyst in a fuel cell test was achieved. This work offers a general strategy to prepare high-performance AEMs based on IPN structure design.
Project description:Polymeric materials as anion exchange membranes (AEMs) play an essential role in the field of energy and environment. The achievement of high performance AEMs by the precise manipulation of macromolecular architecture remains a daunting challenge. Herein, we firstly report a novel rod-coil graft copolymer AEM, possessing rigid hydrophobic main chains and soft hydrophilic graft chains. The low graft density, which can alleviate the adverse influences of ionic graft chains on the main chains, was obtained by using the living polymerization technique. Consequently, the grafted ionic groups which result in the degradation of polymer backbone was decreased to a small degree. Moreover, the relatively long graft chains induced the nanophase separation between the hydrophobic polymer chains and hydrophilic graft chains, which creates a convenient pathway for high hydroxide ion mobility. Such an accurate molecular design simultaneously improves the hydroxide ion conductivity and alkaline stability as well as dimensional stability.
Project description:Different anion-exchange membranes (AEMs) based on polystyrene (PS)-carrying benzyltrimethyl ammonium cations are currently being developed for use in alkaline fuel cells and water electrolyzers. However, the stability in relation to these state-of-the-art cations needs to be further improved. Here, we introduce highly alkali-stable mono- and spirocyclic piperidine-based cations onto PS by first performing a superacid-mediated Friedel-Crafts alkylation using 2-(piperidine-4-yl)propane-2-ol. This is followed by quaternization of the piperidine rings either using iodomethane to produce N,N-dimethyl piperidinium cations or by cyclo-quaternizations using 1,5-dibromopentane and 1,4-dibromobutane, respectively, to obtain N-spirocyclic quaternary ammonium cations. Thus, it is possible to functionalize up to 27% of the styrene units with piperidine rings and subsequently achieve complete quaternization. The synthetic approach ensures that all of the sensitive ?-hydrogens of the cations are present in ring structures to provide high stability. AEMs based on these polymers show high alkaline stability and less than 5% ionic loss was observed by 1H NMR spectroscopy after 30 days in 2 M aq NaOH at 90 °C. AEMs functionalized with N,N-dimethyl piperidinium cations show higher stability than the ones carrying N-spirocyclic quaternary ammonium. Careful analysis of the latter revealed that the rings formed in the cyclo-quaternization are more prone to degrade via Hofmann elimination than the rings introduced in the Friedel-Crafts reaction. AEMs with an ion-exchange capacity of 1.5 mequiv g-1 reach a hydroxide conductivity of 106 mS cm-1 at 80 °C under fully hydrated conditions. The AEMs are further tuned and improved by blending with polybenzimidazole (PBI). For example, an AEM containing 2 wt % PBI shows reduced water uptake and much improved robustness during handling and reaches 71 mS cm-1 at 80 °C. The study demonstrates that the critical alkaline stability of PS-containing AEMs can be significantly enhanced by replacing the benchmark benzyltrimethyl ammonium cations with N-alicyclic piperidine-based cations.
Project description:Alkaline alcohols (methanol, ethanol, propanol, and ethylene glycol) have been applied as fuels for alkaline anion exchange membrane fuel cells. However, the effects of alkaline media on the stability of anion exchange membranes (AEMs) are still elusive. Here, a series of organic cations including quaternary ammonium, imidazolium, benzimidazolium, pyridinium, phosphonium, pyrrolidinium cations, and their corresponding cationic polymers are synthesized and systematically investigated with respect to their chemical stability in various alkaline media (water, methanol, ethanol, and dimethyl sulfoxide) by quantitative 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and density functional theory calculations. In the case of protic solvents (water, methanol, and ethanol), the lower dielectric constant of the alkaline media, the lower is the lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) energy of the organic cation, which leads to the lower alkaline stability of cations. However, the hydrogen bonds between the anions and protic solvents weaken the effects of low dielectric constant of the alkaline media. The aprotic solvent accelerated the SN2 degradation reaction of "naked" organic cations. The results of this study suggest that both the chemical structure of organic cations and alkaline media (fuels) applied affect the alkaline stability of AEMs.
Project description:In this paper we present a study on stable radicals and short-lived species generated in anion-exchange membrane (AEM) fuel cells (AEMFCs) during operation. The in situ measurements are performed with a micro-AEMFC inserted into a resonator of an electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectrometer, which enables separate monitoring of radicals formed on the anode and cathode sides. The creation of radicals is monitored by the EPR spin trapping technique. For the first time, we clearly show the formation and presence of stable radicals in AEMs during and after long-term AEMFC operation. The main detected adducts during the operation of the micro-AEMFC are DMPO-OOH and DMPO-OH on the cathode side, and DMPO-H on the anode side. These results indicate that oxidative degradation involving radical reactions has to be taken into account when stability of AEMFCs is investigated.
Project description:In the Pyror process, electrowinning (EW) is used to recover acid and iron from spent leaching solutions (SLS), where a porous Terylene membrane acts as a separator between the cathode and anode. In this study, a novel anion exchange membrane (AEM)-based EW process is benchmarked against a process without and with a porous Terylene membrane by comparing the current efficiency, specific energy consumption (SEC), and sulfuric acid generation using an in-house constructed EW flow cell. Using an FAP-PK-130 commercial AEM, it was shown that the AEM-based process was more efficient than the traditional processes. Subsequently, 11 novel polybenzimidazole (PBI)-based blend AEMs were compared with the commercial AEM. The best performing novel AEM (BM-5), yielded a current efficiency of 95% at an SEC of 3.53 kWh/kg Fe, which is a 10% increase in current efficiency and a 0.72 kWh/kg Fe decrease in SEC when compared to the existing Pyror process. Furthermore, the use of the novel BM-5 AEM resulted in a 0.22 kWh/kg Fe lower SEC than that obtained with the commercial AEM, also showing mechanical stability in the EW flow cell. Finally, it was shown that below 5 g/L Fe, side reactions at the cathode resulted in a decrease in process efficiency, while 40 g/L yielded the highest efficiency and lowest SECs.
Project description:Spaceflight introduces a combination of environmental stressors, including microgravity, ionizing radiation, changes in diet and altered atmospheric gas composition. In order to understand the impact of each environmental component on astronauts it is important to investigate potential influences in isolation. Rodent spaceflight experiments involve both standard vivarium cages and animal enclosure modules (AEMs), which are cages used to house rodents in spaceflight. Ground control AEMs are engineered to match the spaceflight environment. There are limited studies examining the biological response invariably due to the configuration of AEM and vivarium housing. To investigate the innate global transcriptomic patterns of rodents housed in spaceflight-matched AEM compared to standard vivarium cages we utilized publicly available data from the NASA GeneLab repository. Using a systems biology approach, we observed that AEM housing was associated with significant transcriptomic differences, including reduced metabolism, altered immune responses, and activation of possible tumorigenic pathways. Although we did not perform any functional studies, our findings revealed a mild hypoxic phenotype in AEM, possibly due to atmospheric carbon dioxide that was increased to match conditions in spaceflight. Our investigation illustrates the process of generating new hypotheses and informing future experimental research by repurposing multiple space-flown datasets.
Project description:The concentration dependencies of diffusion permeability of homogeneous (AMX-Sb and AX) and heterogeneous (MA-41 and FTAM-EDI) anion-exchange membranes (AEMs) is obtained in solutions of ampholytes (sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3; monosodium phosphate, NaH2PO4; and potassium hydrogen tartrate, KHT) and a strong electrolyte (sodium chloride, NaCl). It is established that the diffusion permeability of AEMs increases with dilution of the ampholyte solutions, while it decreases in the case of the strong electrolyte solution. The factors causing the unusual form of concentration dependencies of AEMs in the ampholyte solutions are considered: (1) the enrichment of the internal AEM solution with multiply charged counterions and (2) the increase in the pore size of AEMs with dilution of the external solution. The enrichment of the internal solution of AEMs with multiply charged counterions is caused by the Donnan exclusion of protons, which are the products of protolysis reactions. The increase in the pore size is conditioned by the stretching of the elastic polymer matrix due to the penetration of strongly hydrated anions of carbonic, phosphoric, and tartaric acids into the AEMs.
Project description:High-dose busulfan (BU) followed by high-dose cyclophosphamide (CY) before allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) has long been used as treatment for hematologic malignancies. Administration of phenytoin or newer alternative antiepileptic medications (AEMs) prevents seizures caused by BU. Phenytoin induces enzymes that increase exposure to active CY metabolites in vivo, whereas alternative AEMs do not have this effect. Lower exposure to active CY metabolites with the use of alternative AEMs could decrease the risk of toxicity but might increase the risk of recurrent malignancy after HCT. Previous studies have not determined whether outcomes with alternative AEMs differ from those with phenytoin in patients treated with BU/CY before allogeneic HCT. We studied a cohort of 2155 patients, including 1460 treated with phenytoin and 695 treated with alternative AEMs, who received BU/CY before allogeneic HCT between 2004 and 2014. We found no differences suggesting decreased overall survival or relapse-free survival or increased risks of relapse, nonrelapse mortality, acute or chronic graft-versus-host disease, or regimen-related toxicity associated with the use of alternative AEMs compared with phenytoin. The risk of dialysis was lower in the alternative AEM group than in the phenytoin group. Alternative AEMs are safe for prevention of seizures after BU administration and can avoid the undesirable toxicities and drug interactions caused by phenytoin.
Project description:Alkaline polyelectrolyte fuel cell now receives growing attention as a promising candidate to serve as the next generation energy-generating device by enabling the use of non-precious metal catalysts (silver, cobalt, nickel et al.). However, the development and application of alkaline polyelectrolyte fuel cell is still blocked by the poor hydroxide conductivity of anion exchange membranes. In order to solve this problem, we demonstrate a methodology for the preparation of highly OH(-) conductive anion exchange polyelectrolytes with good alkaline tolerance and excellent dimensional stability. Polymer backbones were grafted with flexible aliphatic chains containing two or three quaternized ammonium groups. The highly flexible and hydrophilic multi-functionalized side chains prefer to aggregate together to facilitate the formation of well-defined hydrophilic-hydrophobic microphase separation, which is crucial for the superior OH(-) conductivity of 69?mS/cm at room temperature. Besides, the as-prepared AEMs also exhibit excellent alkaline tolerance as well as improved dimensional stability due to their carefully designed polymer architecture, which provide new directions to pursue high performance AEMs and are promising to serve as a candidate for fuel cell technology.