We prepared novel ion exchange membranes for possible use in polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) by the radiation-induced graft copolymerization of styrene and new crosslinker bis(vinyl phenyl)ethane (BVPE) into crosslinked polytetrafluoroethylene (cPTFE) films and subsequent sulfonation and then investigated their water uptake, proton conductivity, and stability in an oxidizing environment. In contrast to the conventional crosslinker, divinylbenzene (DVB), the degree of grafting of styrene∕BVPE increased in spite of high crosslinker concentrations in the reacting solution (up to ). Quantitative sulfonation of the aromatic rings in the crosslinked graft chains resulted in the preparation of membranes with a high ion exchange capacity that reached . The bulk properties of the membranes were found to exceed those of Nafion membranes except for chemical stability. The emphasis was on the fact that the BVPE-crosslinked membranes exhibited the higher stability in the solution at compared to the noncrosslinked and DVB-crosslinked ones, as well as decreased water uptake and reasonable proton conductivity. These results are rationalized by considering the reactivity between styrene and the crosslinker, which is an important factor determining the distribution of the crosslinks in the graft component. In the case of BVPE, the crosslinks at a high density were homogeneously incorporated even into the interior of the membrane because of its compatibility with styrene while the far too reactive DVB led to a crosslink formation only near the surface. The combination of both the cPTFE main chain and BVPE-based grafts, i.e., a perfect “double” crosslinking structure, is likely to effectively improve the membrane performances for PEFC applications.
Preparation of Highly Stable Ion Exchange Membranes by Radiation-Induced Graft Copolymerization of Styrene and Bis(vinyl phenyl)ethane Into Crosslinked Polytetrafluoroethylene Films
Yamaki, T., Tsukada, J., Asano, M., Katakai, R., and Yoshida, M. (April 11, 2006). "Preparation of Highly Stable Ion Exchange Membranes by Radiation-Induced Graft Copolymerization of Styrene and Bis(vinyl phenyl)ethane Into Crosslinked Polytetrafluoroethylene Films." ASME. J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol. February 2007; 4(1): 56–64. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.2393305
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