Ionic resistance and permselectivity tradeoffs in anion exchange membranes

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Abstract

Salinity gradient energy technologies, such as reverse electrodialysis (RED) and capacitive mixing based on Donnan potential (Capmix CDP), could help address the global need for noncarbon-based energy. Anion exchange membranes (AEMs) are a key component in these systems, and improved AEMs are needed in order to optimize and extend salinity gradient energy technologies. We measured ionic resistance and permselectivity properties of quaternary ammonium-functionalized AEMs based on poly(sulfone) and poly(phenylene oxide) polymer backbones and developed structure-property relationships between the transport properties and the water content and fixed charge concentration of the membranes. Ion transport and ion exclusion properties depend on the volume fraction of water in the polymer membrane, and the chemical nature of the polymer itself can influence fine-tuning of the transport properties to obtain membranes with other useful properties, such as chemical and dimensional stability. The ionic resistance of the AEMs considered in this study decreased by more than 3 orders of magnitude (i.e., from 3900 to 1.6 Ω m) and the permselectivity decreased by 6% (i.e., from 0.91 to 0.85) as the volume fraction of water in the polymer was varied by a factor of 3.8 (i.e., from 0.1 to 0.38). Water content was used to rationalize a tradeoff relationship between the permselectivity and ionic resistance of these AEMs whereby polymers with higher water content tend to have lower ionic resistance and lower permselectivity. The correlation of ion transport properties with water volume fraction and fixed charge concentration is discussed with emphasis on the importance of considering water volume fraction when interpreting ion transport data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10294-10301
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Volume5
Issue number20
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 23 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)

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