Jo Apr 22, 2024

Solid polymer electrolyte water electrolysis (SPEWE) is considered to be a promising way of producing “green” hydrogen at lower temperatures without use of fossil fuel or emission of greenhouse gas. In addition, electrolyser with proton exchange membrane (PEM) is expected to be used extensively due to its higher efficiency and current density, and use of distilled water as reactive agent.

Currently, the most widely used proton exchange membrane material is Nafion due to its moderate proton conductivity and chemical stability. But owing to the high cost of Nafion membrane, researches for alternative membranes based on hydrocarbon polymer and composite membrane have been prompted. Sulfonated polyether ether ketone (sPEEK) membranes are potential candidates to take the place of Nafion membranes as they are cheap while exhibiting good properties. Their conductivity and water uptake increase with increasing sulphonation degree are superior to Nafion. In addition, the dependence of conductivity with water content is stronger than in the case of Nafion. Especially, the conductivity of sPEEK at high levels of hydration is far superior to that of Nafion.

Jang Tae Il, a researcher at the Nano Physics Engineering Institute, has prepared ZrO2-sPEEK composite membrane with proper solvency by dimethyl formamide (DMF) and mechanical strength, and studied the factors for preparation of MEA. He chose ZrO2 based on the following motivations; firstly, chemical stability of ZrO2-sPEEK composite membrane can be enhanced by acid resistance of ZrO2 and secondly, good hydrophilicity of ZrO2 can improve or at least not worsen the proton conductivity of composite membrane.

He concluded from his study that the reasonable content of ZrO2 in the proposed composite membrane is 12wt%.