Membranes are important in water-splitting solar cells because they prevent crossover of hydrogen and oxygen. Here, bipolar membranes (BPMs) were tested as separators in water electrolysis cells. Steady-state membrane and solution resistances, electrode overpotentials, and pH gradients were measured at current densities relevant to solar photoelectrolysis. Under forward bias conditions, electrodialysis of phosphate buffer ions creates a pH gradient across a BPM. Under reverse bias, the BPM can maintain a constant buffer pH on both sides of the cell, but a large membrane potential develops. Thus, the BPM does not present a viable solution for electrolysis in buffered electrolytes. However, the membrane potential is minimized when the anode and cathode compartments of the cell contain strongly basic and acidic electrolytes, respectively.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Materials Science(all)