Membranes

Enabling highly durable and conductive solid polymer alkaline electrolytes.

CABES seeks to design and demonstrate the characteristics of polymer membranes and related ionomers required for good ionic conduction and stability in the alkaline environment.

Synthetic design strategy for highly conductive alkaline anion exchange polymer membranes

The first fuel cells in broad practical application were alkaline fuel cells deployed by NASA for the Gemini and Apollo space missions. These used an aqueous alkaline electrolyte supported with an asbestos mat. To enable the exciting benefits of operating fuel cells at high pH, this chemistry must be made available in a solid membrane form. To accomplish this, intrinsic problems of carbonation, membrane degradation and low conductivity must be overcome.

Building upon successfully demonstrated early examples of AAEMs from the CABES team, the Membranes Thrust Team will establish a more comprehensive understanding of the polymer compositional and structural requirements to overcome these challenges. Related to this will be the interest to enable ionomeric (non-membrane) forms of highly active compositions, to permit the high surface area interfaces with the electrocatalysts required of practical fuel cells and related devices.

This thrust will interact with the Electrocatalysis and Support Thrusts to understand reactivity with those materials, and probe stability and activity of the composite and its interfaces. These experiments will be conducted in concert with the Methods Thrust. The Theory Thrust will help close the loop, both analyzing analytical results and helping predict new opportunities for active materials.