Optimal loading of quaternized chitosan nanofillers in functionalized polyvinyl alcohol polymer membrane for effective hydroxide ion conduction and suppressed alcohol transport

Guan Ming Liao, Chun Chen Yang, Chien Chieh Hu, Li Wei Teng, Chia Hsun Hsieh, Shingjiang Jessie Lue*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

A polymer composite was prepared by incorporating 5-20 wt% quaternized chitosan (Q-chitosan) nanoparticles into quaternized polyvinyl alcohol (Q-PVA) to enhance the dimensional stability and conductive properties. Compared with the pristine Q-PVA membrane, the ionic conductivity of the Q-PVA composites with 5–10 wt% Q-chitosan was improved due to increased polymeric free volume hole density. The methanol permeability is suppressed in these Q-PVA/Q-chitosan composites because of the confined swelling in the presence of the fillers, shrinking the free volume size. The Q-PVA/5%Q-chitosan composite exhibits higher peak power density (Pmax) than other Q-PVA membranes in direct methanol fuel cells. A Pmax of 92 mW cm−2 is attained using the Q-PVA/5%Q-chitosan composite at 90 °C with 5–6 mg cm−2 catalyst loads on micro-porous layer-containing carbon cloth. The high load of 20 wt% Q-chitosan does not benefit ionic conduction and power generation, probably due to interfacial resistance at rough surfaces. Using the Q-PVA/5%Q-chitosan composite and reduced catalyst loads of 1–2 mg cm−2 on pristine carbon cloth, Pmax of 90 mW cm−2 can be achieved at 60 °C for both methanol and ethanol fuel cells, but declined at 90 °C due to insufficient catalysts. Overall the Q-PVA/Q-chitosan composite offers a potential electrolyte for energy devices operating in an alkaline environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-74
Number of pages10
JournalPolymer
Volume138
DOIs
StatePublished - 28 02 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Fuel cell performance
  • Methanol permeability
  • Polymeric free volume

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