Partially fluorinated copolymers containing pendant piperidinium head groups as anion exchange membranes for alkaline fuel cells†
A new series of partially fluorinated copolymers with varying alkyl side chain length (C3, C6 and C9) and piperidinium head groups have been synthesized and characterized in detail in an effort to improve membrane properties for alkaline fuel cell applications. The copolymers (QPAF4-Cx-pip) provided thin and bendable membranes by solution casting, and achieved high hydroxide ion conductivity up to 97 mS cm−1 in water at 80 °C. Membrane properties such as water absorbability, conductivity, and mechanical properties were tunable with the side chain length. The copolymer main chain and the piperidinium groups were both alkaline stable and the membranes retained high conductivity in 4 M KOH at 80 °C for as long as 1000 h, however, conductivity was lost in 8 M KOH due to Hofmann degradation of the side chain. QPAF4-C3-pip copolymer with the best-balanced properties as anion exchange membrane functioned well in a hydrogen/oxygen alkaline fuel cell to achieve 226 mW cm−2 peak power density at 502 mA cm−2 current density under fully humidified conditions with no back pressure.