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Comparative Studies of Conductive Nanostructures and Activation Properties in Solid Polymer Electrolytes

Friedrich, K. Andreas and Hiesgen, Renate and Helmly, Stefan and Morawietz, Tobias (2013) Comparative Studies of Conductive Nanostructures and Activation Properties in Solid Polymer Electrolytes. International Conference of Electrified Interfaces 2013, 30.06.2013 - 4.7.2013, Liblice, Tschechien.

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Proton-conducting membranes are a key component of PEM fuel cells: the properties of these membranes at the nanoscale influence fuel cell performance and durability. Nafion® (DuPont) remains the most common membrane type and is therefore used as a reference system to which novel membrane materials are compared, and novel membranes are expected to exhibit at least an equivalent performance. The conductivity on a nanostructure scale of different sulfonated polymer electrolyte membranes (PEM) is discussed in comparison. In particular, two perfluorinated membranes, Nafion® and Aquivion®, and JST, a non-perfluorinated aromatic block copolymer, are compared using advanced material-sensitive and conductive atomic force microscopy (AFM). All of the membranes required activation by a current flow to reach significant conductivity for the AFM analysis, indicating the existence of a highly resistive surface skin layer. The two perfluorinated sulfonic acid membranes, a membrane with long side-chains (Nafion®) and a membrane with short side-chains (Aquivion®), exhibited similar properties. A lamellar surface structure, with polymer bundles or micelles in a parallel orientation, was also found for the Aquivion® membrane. AFM high-resolution current images, performed under a continuous current flow, were used to distinguish between the conducting network and the subsurface phase distribution at the membrane surface. The connected subnets of the JST membrane are approximately 100 - 200 nm in size, whereas those for the perfluorinated membrane surfaces are 200 - 300 nm in size. The conductive areas of the Aquivion® and JST membranes exhibited larger homogeneous conducting areas, corresponding to the smaller correlation lengths of ionic phase separation. Membrane cross sections were analyzed to elucidate the structure of the bulk ionic network of the Nafion® membrane, before and after operation. At a protonated and water-soaked but not activated Nafion® sample, the conductivity measured by conductive AFM is barely detectable. The common activation procedure is to force a flow of current by, e.g., electrolysis. Without activation only a current of a few pA is detected for all membranes. The often-observed lamellar structure in the topography which is also visible in the conductivity images supports a parallel orientation of polymer structures with respect to the surface. The investigated membranes show a distinct activation behavior which is interpreted as as indicative of different skin layer thickneses.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/85703/
Document Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Title:Comparative Studies of Conductive Nanostructures and Activation Properties in Solid Polymer Electrolytes
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthors ORCID iD
Friedrich, K. Andreasandreas.friedrich (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Hiesgen, RenateHochschule EsslingenUNSPECIFIED
Helmly, Stefanstefan.helmly (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Morawietz, TobiasHochschule EsslingenUNSPECIFIED
Date:1 July 2013
Refereed publication:No
Open Access:No
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Keywords:conductive nanostructure proton exchange membrane polymer electrolyte fuel cells
Event Title:International Conference of Electrified Interfaces 2013
Event Location:Liblice, Tschechien
Event Type:international Conference
Event Dates:30.06.2013 - 4.7.2013
Organizer:Czech Academy of Sciences
HGF - Research field:Energy
HGF - Program:Efficient Energy Conversion and Use (old)
HGF - Program Themes:Fuel Cells (old)
DLR - Research area:Energy
DLR - Program:E EV - Energy process technology
DLR - Research theme (Project):E - Elektrochemische Prozesse (old)
Location: Stuttgart
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics > Electrochemical Energy Technology
Deposited By: Friedrich, Prof.Dr. Kaspar Andreas
Deposited On:02 Dec 2013 11:09
Last Modified:02 Dec 2013 11:09

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