‘The strategy for enhancing fatigue resistance can be extended and applied to ion filters, battery separators, and actuation systems.’
The life of a hydrogen fuel cell can be reduced due to the formation of cracks in the electrolyte membrane that occur during its operation. Researchers from Incheon National University, South Korea, and Harvard University, US, have published a study in Advanced Materials describing a polymer electrolyte membrane that is resistant to fatigue and cracking.
The researchers created electrolyte membranes comprising an interpenetrating network of Nafion – the brand name for a sulphonated tetrafluoroethylene-based fluoropolymer-copolymer – and perfluoropolyether (PTPE), which creates a durable, rubbery, polymer network.
While the fatigue threshold and lifespan of the membrane was ‘markedly enhanced’, the researchers noted that the electrochemical performance was ‘slightly diminished.’ The researchers also noted that membranes produced with 50% PFPE saturation exhibited ‘reasonable electrochemical performance’. They found that Nafion electrolyte membranes had a lifespan of 242 hours, whereas the composite membrane had a lifespan of 410 hours.
The researchers say that their work has the potential to be applied across other areas. ‘The strategy for enhancing fatigue resistance can be extended and applied to ion filters, battery separators, and actuation systems. This allows for broad application in high-durability long-life desalination filters, flow battery separators, lithium metal battery separators and artificial muscles.’ said Associate Professor Sang Moon Kim from Incheon National University.