Effect of Water on the Stability of Quaternary Ammonium Groups for Anion Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Applications

Abstract : Here we present a novel methodology to measure the alkaline stability of anion conducting polymers to be used as anion exchange membranes and anion exchange ionomers for fuel cells. The new ex situ technique simulates the environment of an anion exchange membrane fuel cell (AEMFC) during operation, where nucleophilic and basic OH − species in the absence, or with a scarce amount of water, attack the functional groups of the ionic polymer. Using this technique, we clearly show the critical effect of water molecules on the alkaline stability of quaternary ammonium (QA) cations commonly used as functional groups in AEMFCs. The results show that as the water content is reduced, the QA cations are more rapidly degraded in the presence of OH − at room temperature. With an increasing number of water molecules solvating the hydroxide, its nucleophilicity and basicity are hindered, and the QA degradation is significantly slowed. These results indicate that the currently used aqueous alkali ex situ tests to measure anion exchange membrane (AEM) stability may lead to false positive stability results where anion conducting polymers may appear more alkali stable than they really are.
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Dario Dekel, Michal Amar, Sapir Willdorf, Monica Kosa, Shubhendu Dhara, et al.. Effect of Water on the Stability of Quaternary Ammonium Groups for Anion Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Applications. Chemistry of Materials, American Chemical Society, 2017, 29 (10), pp.4425 - 4431. ⟨10.1021/acs.chemmater.7b00958⟩. ⟨hal-01533567⟩

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