Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://dx.doi.org/10.18419/opus-11719
|Title:||Miscibility, viscoelastic reinforcement, and transport properties of blend membranes based on sulfonated poly(phenylene sulfone)s|
|Abstract:||Chemical energy that hydrogen may generate during combustion and the corresponding electrical energy are interconvertible by means of a fuel cell (FC) and by the electrolysis of water (WE), which allows for the utilization of the complementary nature of these two key energy vectors towards energy sustainability. A proton exchange membrane (PEM) made from an ionomer is commonly employed as the electrolyte in mobile fuel cell applications and in water electrolyzers that require dynamic operability and pressurized product gases. New PEM materials are needed to increase performance, reduce environmental impact, and allow for a more targeted design of PEMFC and PEMWE systems, all of which is in some way limited by the use of the established perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA) type ionomers. This work’s focus lies on sulfonated poly(phenylene sulfone)s (sPPS), a unique group of fluorine-free cation conducting ionomers. They are unique in terms of their chemical stability and transport properties, however, typical in terms of their salt-like brittleness in the dry state and extensive swelling at high humidity and in water. To make the unique properties of sPPS available in application, the goal of this work is to take a comprehensive approach to their viscoelastic reinforcement. Therefore, the structure of this thesis entails three related aspects along the process from pure materials to the optimization of robust PEMs for application. The first chapter focuses on the optimization of the intrinsic viscoelastic properties of a particularly suited sPPS (termed S360, with IEC 2.78 meq g-1, EW 360 g mol-1) which lays the groundwork for reliable and systematic further development. To achieve this, relevant properties of S360 are first characterized and viscoelastic shortcomings as seen in water uptake measurements and tensile tests under dry conditions (≤ 30% relative humidity, RH) discussed. The step-growth polymerization of S360 is optimized after finding significant inorganic contamination retained in the established purification process of the widely used monomer sulfonated difluorodiphenyl sulfone (sDFDPS), allowing for the preparation of the ionomer in reproducible high molecular weight. Relevant properties of high molecular weight S360 are characterized and an enhancement of mechanical properties at 30% RH as well as when submerged in water is found. Access to reproducible high quality of S360 enables its first-time use and study as a PEM in a completely fluorine-free WE cell. At 80 °C, record performance amongst fluorine free electrolytes in PEMWEs of 3.48 A cm-2 at 1.8 V is achieved, showcasing the potential of sPPS for application. The second chapter entails the identification and better understanding of a suitable and versatile reinforcement concept for creating robust membranes based on sPPS. To achieve this, the established homogeneously miscible acid-base polymer blends of sulfonated ionomers with poly(benzimidazole) (PBI, and its derivatives PBIO and PBIOO) are discussed in-depth and chosen for later systematic optimization in combination with sPPS. Since the origin of miscibility in PBI blends with sulfonated ionomers is insufficiently described in literature and could facilitate targeted design of new blend components, a model acid-base polymer blend system comprising pyridine-functionalized poly(sulfone) (PSU) is created. Pyridine groups of different basicity tethered to PSU in varying concentration are used to investigate the effect that interpolymer acid-base interaction strength and concentration have on miscibility in blends with 80 wt% S360, as derived from the blend membranes’ cross-sectional SEMs. High mutual compatibility is achieved at high concentration of weak interpolymer interaction, which is interpreted with regards to the observed miscibility in PBI blends. Based on the derived role that hydrogen bonds may play in PBI blends, the difference of interpolymer interaction in solution (during membrane formation) and in the dry membrane is described. This could enable the development of new blend concepts in the future. An exemplary miscible blend that comprises interpolymer hydrogen bonds only in solution but not in the final membrane is shown. The third chapter describes the optimization and balance of properties in the previously described polymer blends with PBIO, following the goal to prepare membranes which can be evaluated in fuel cells and fabricated on a wider scale in order to bring the attractive properties of sPPS into application. To achieve this, S360-blend membranes of varying PBIO content are characterized with regard to conductivity and mechanical properties in various conditions. High mechanical robustness is achieved in S360 blends with 30 wt% PBIO but is accompanied by dramatic reduction of conductivity, due to the charge-consuming acid-base interaction. The findings are translated into blends with fully sulfonated sPPS (termed S220, with IEC 4.54 meq g-1, EW 220 g mol-1) which allows for the creation of membranes that combine mechanical toughness with high conductivity at a ratio of 25 wt% PBIO in S220, making the material suited for production on a commercial casting line and fuel cell testing. Membranes based on S360 that comprise 15 wt% PBIO are designated for further studies in PEMWEs, where membrane requirements differ significantly from that in PEMFCs, highlighting the versatility of the reinforcement approach chosen in this work. Finally, first fuel cell tests of thin spray coated PBIO blend membranes are conducted, and initial durability testing of sPPS-based membranes in fuel cells is possible. Overall, the results presented in this work are strongly interrelated which underlines the importance of comprehensiveness in the successful viscoelastic reinforcement of sulfonated poly(phenylene sulfone)s. Ultimately, the blend membranes resulting from this work can be used as a platform for further development of sPPS-based PEMs in the future.|
|Appears in Collections:||03 Fakultät Chemie|
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