Composite Zirconium Phosphate/PTFE Polymer Membranes for Application in Direct Hydrocarbon Fuel Cells

Title: Composite Zirconium Phosphate/PTFE Polymer Membranes for Application in Direct Hydrocarbon Fuel Cells
Authors: Al-Othman, Amani Lutfi
Date: 2012
Abstract: Higher temperature (~ 200°C) operation for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells would have several advantages including enhanced electrochemical kinetics, useful heat recovery, and improved catalyst tolerance for contaminants. Conventional perfluorosulfonic acid membranes (PFSA), such as Nafion show a dramatic decrease in proton conductivity at temperatures above 80°C. For this reason, there has been an increasing effort toward the development of stable, higher temperature membranes with acceptable proton conductivity. This work is directed toward the development of Nafion free membranes for direct hydrocarbon PEM fuel cells containing zirconium phosphate as the proton conductor component. Hence, composite membranes composed of zirconium-phosphate (ZrP), a solid proton conductor, which was precipitated within the voids of a porous polytetraflouroethylene (PTFE) support were synthesized. Amorphous-like zirconium phosphate (ZrP) powder was synthesized in this work. ZrP was prepared by precipitation at room temperature via reaction of ZrOCl2 with H3PO4 aqueous solutions. The proton conduction properties of ZrP powder were studied under the processing conditions found in direct hydrocarbon fuel cell. Our experimental results showed that the ZrP powder processed at 200°C possess a proton conductivity that is greater by one order of magnitude than the oven-dried samples at 70°C. Thereby, it was possible to avoid the normal decrease in conductivity with increasing temperature by having sufficient water in the vapor phase. This thesis reports the first synthesis of composite ZrP/PTFE/Glycerol (GLY) membranes. Glycerol (GLY) was introduced into the pores of PTFE with the ZrP proton conductive material using the successive wetting/drying technique. These membranes had reasonable values of proton conductivities (0.045 S cm-1), approaching that of Nafion (0.1 S cm-1) at room temperature. Samples of these composite membranes were processed at the inlet conditions of a propane fuel cell, at 200°C. Experimental results showed that the proton conductivity remained almost unchanged. This thesis also describes and reports the first synthesis of sulphur “S” or silicon, Si–modified zirconium phosphate (ZrP), porous polytetrafluoethylene (PTFE) and, glycerol (GLY) composite membranes. It was aimed at the substitution of a minor amount of phosphorus “P” in the ZrP by (S or Si) in the ZrP to modify the proton conduction properties. The modification was performed by adding a certain amount of silicic acid or sulphuric acid into phosphoric acid then proceeding with the precipitation in situ. A high proton conductivity, of 0.073 S cm-1,i.e. 73% of that of Nafion, was observed for the Si–ZrP/PTFE/GLY composite membrane.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -