Effect of solvent and crystal size on the selectivity of ZSM-5/Nafion composite membranes fabricated by solution-casting method

Byun, Soon ChurlJeong, Yeon JunPark, Jun WooKim, Shin DongHa, Heung YongKim, Wha Jung
Issue Date
SOLID STATE IONICS, v.177, no.37-38, pp.3233 - 3243
Zeolite/Nafion composite membranes with high proton selectivity were successfully fabricated using the solution-casting method. The types of zeolites are nano-sized and large sized Na-ZSM-5, H-ZSM-5, and their ball-milled ones. Two different schemes of experiments were conducted depending on the type of solvent. In case of using as-received Nafion((R)) ionomer dispersions, the experimental results clearly show that the proton conductivity of zeolite composite membrane using either H-type or Na-type ZSM-5 depends on the type of solvent. It is thought that when propanol and water as the solvents were used, more hydrophilic H-type ZSM-5 seems to have been more randomly dispersed into hydrophobic region rather than hydrophilic ionic clustered channels within Nafion. Therefore, H-type ZSM-5 existing near hydrophobic region seems to provide additional path for proton migration but weakening the mechanical strength. These composite membranes show higher water uptake than commercial Nafion((R)) 115, strongly suggesting better water retention ability of zeolite. The most interesting result is that the methanol permeability has decreased with increasing zeolite contents even when the proton conductivity increased, and the proton selectivities of these composite membranes expressed as characteristic factor were higher than that of Nafion((R)) 115. In case of using a mixture of high boiling point DMF and ethanol as the solvent, unlike the previous case where no DMF was used, the proton conductivity slightly dropped with increasing zeolite contents. These results should have been attributed to a blocking effect of zeolite particles surrounded by inversely oriented hydrophilic micelles of Nafion. However, the values of proton conductivity of most composite membranes were significantly higher than that of Nafion((R)) 115, and methanol permeability also decreased with increasing zeolite contents. The significantly lower methanol permeability of the composite membrane fabricated with DMF as the solvent is probably due to the more effective blocking effect of H-ZSM-5 for ionic clustered channels as well as difficult transport of methanol through zeolite pores. In case of the composite membranes containing ZSM-5 with large crystal size, it is found that the methanol permeability has increased considerably with the increasing of zeolite contents due to void fractions between polymer phases and zeolite particles. In case of using ball-milled ZSM-5 with small crystal size, however, the value of characteristic factor tends to increase with increasing zeolite contents. Consequently, it is seen that the characteristic factor of Zeolite/Nafion composite membranes was much higher than Nafion((R)) 115. The results obtained throughout this study strongly suggest that zeolites with small crystal size and high hydrophilicity are very prospective for composite membrane for direct methanol fuel cells in the future. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
ELECTROLYTE MEMBRANES; METHANOL; ELECTROLYTE MEMBRANES; METHANOL; DMFCs; zeolite; Nafion; hydrophilicity; composite membrane; solution-cast; high proton selectivity
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