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Issue 25, 2015
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A cellulose nanocrystal-based composite electrolyte with superior dimensional stability for alkaline fuel cell membranes

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Abstract

Cellulose nanocrystal (CNC)-based composite films were prepared as a solid electrolyte for alkaline fuel cells. Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) and silica gel hybrid were used to bind the CNCs to form a robust composite film. The mass ratio (i.e., 1 : 1, 1 : 2) of PVA and silica gel was tuned to control the hydrophobicity of the resulting films. Composite films with a range of CNC contents (i.e., 20–60%) were prepared to demonstrate the impact of CNCs on the performance of these materials as a solid electrolyte for alkaline fuel cells. Different from previously reported cross-linked polymer films, CNC-based composite films with 40% hydrophobic binder (i.e., PVA : silica gel = 1 : 2) exhibited simultaneous low water swelling (e.g., ∼5%) and high water uptake (e.g., ∼80%) due to the hydrophilicity and extraordinary dimensional stability of CNCs. It also showed a conductivity of 0.044 and 0.065 S cm−1 at 20 and 60 °C, respectively. To the best of our knowledge, the film with 60% CNC and 40% binder is characterized by the lowest hydroxide conductivity-normalized swelling ratio. Decreased CNC contents (i.e., 40 and 20%) resulted in comparable hydroxide conductivity but a greater swelling ratio. These results demonstrate the advantage of CNCs as a key component for a solid electrolyte for alkaline fuel cells over conventional polymers, suggesting the great potential of CNCs in improving the dimensional stability while maintaining the conductivity of existing anion exchange membranes.

Graphical abstract: A cellulose nanocrystal-based composite electrolyte with superior dimensional stability for alkaline fuel cell membranes

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Publication details

The article was received on 30 Mar 2015, accepted on 13 May 2015 and first published on 13 May 2015


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C5TA02304A
Author version available: Download Author version (PDF)
Citation: J. Mater. Chem. A, 2015,3, 13350-13356
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    A cellulose nanocrystal-based composite electrolyte with superior dimensional stability for alkaline fuel cell membranes

    Y. Lu, A. A. Armentrout, J. Li, H. L. Tekinalp, J. Nanda and S. Ozcan, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2015, 3, 13350
    DOI: 10.1039/C5TA02304A

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