Imidazolium-based anion exchange membranes for alkaline anion fuel cells: elucidation of the morphology and the interplay between the morphology and properties†
We investigated the morphology and swelling behavior of a new graft-type of anion exchange membrane (AEM) containing 2-methylimidazolium groups by using a contrast variation small angle neutron scattering (SANS) technique. These AEMs were prepared by radiation-induced grafting of 2-methyl-1-vinylimidazole and styrene into poly(ethylene-co-tetrafluoroethylene) (ETFE) films and subsequent N-alkylation with methyliodide, and possessed both high alkaline durability and high conductivity. Our results showed that the crystalline lamellar and crystallite structures originating from the pristine ETFE films were more or less conserved in these AEMs, but the lamellar d-spacing in both dry and wet membranes was enlarged, indicating an expansion of the amorphous lamellae due to the graft chains introduced in the grafting process and the water incorporated in the swelling process. For the first time, the swelling behavior of the AEMs was studied quantitatively in various water mixtures of water and deuterated water with different volume ratios (contrast variation method), and the morphology of these membranes was elucidated by three phases: phase (1) crystalline ETFE domains, which offer good mechanical properties; phase (2) hydrophobic amorphous domains, which are made up of amorphous ETFE chains and offer a matrix to create conducting regions; phase (3) interconnected hydrated domains, which are composed of the entire graft chains and water and play a key role in promoting the conductivity.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Open access articles from Soft Matter