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Open AccessArticle

Applicability of a New Sulfonated Pentablock Copolymer Membrane and Modified Gas Diffusion Layers for Low-Cost Water Splitting Processes

1
CNR-IMM, Zona Industriale Strada VIII n.5, I-95121 Catania, Italy
2
Dipartimento di Scienze Chimiche, Università degli Studi di Catania, Viale A. Doria n.6, I-95125 Catania, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Energies 2019, 12(11), 2064; https://doi.org/10.3390/en12112064
Received: 10 April 2019 / Revised: 8 May 2019 / Accepted: 26 May 2019 / Published: 30 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Materials and Devices for Solar to Hydrogen Energy Conversion)
The aim of this work is to evaluate the possible use of Nexar™ polymer, a sulfonated pentablock copolymer (s-PBC), whose structure is formed by tert-butyl styrene, hydrogenated isoprene, sulfonated styrene, hydrogenated isoprene, and tert-butyl styrene (tBS-HI-SS-HI-tBS), as a more economical and efficient alternative to Nafion® membrane for proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis cells. Furthermore, we have studied a new methodology for modification of gas diffusion layers (GDL) by depositing Pt and TiO2 nanoparticles at the cathode and anode side, respectively, and a protective polymeric layer on their surface, allowing the improvement of the contact with the membrane. Morphological, structural, and electrical characterization were performed on the Nexar™ membrane and on the modified GDLs. The use of modified GDLs positively affects the efficiency of the water electrolysis process. Furthermore, Nexar™ showed higher water uptake and conductivity with respect to Nafion®, resulting in an increased amount of current generated during water electrolysis. In conclusion, we show that Nexar™ is an efficient and cheaper alternative to Nafion® as the proton exchange membrane in water splitting applications and we suggest a possible methodology for improving GDLs’ properties. These results meet the urgent need for low-cost materials and processes for hydrogen production. View Full-Text
Keywords: sulfonated polymer; hydrogen production; water electrolysis; Nafion; Nexar sulfonated polymer; hydrogen production; water electrolysis; Nafion; Nexar
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MDPI and ACS Style

Filice, S.; Urzì, G.; Milazzo, R.G.; Privitera, S.M.S.; Lombardo, S.A.; Compagnini, G.; Scalese, S. Applicability of a New Sulfonated Pentablock Copolymer Membrane and Modified Gas Diffusion Layers for Low-Cost Water Splitting Processes. Energies 2019, 12, 2064. https://doi.org/10.3390/en12112064

AMA Style

Filice S, Urzì G, Milazzo RG, Privitera SMS, Lombardo SA, Compagnini G, Scalese S. Applicability of a New Sulfonated Pentablock Copolymer Membrane and Modified Gas Diffusion Layers for Low-Cost Water Splitting Processes. Energies. 2019; 12(11):2064. https://doi.org/10.3390/en12112064

Chicago/Turabian Style

Filice, S.; Urzì, G.; Milazzo, R. G.; Privitera, S. M.S.; Lombardo, S. A.; Compagnini, G.; Scalese, S. 2019. "Applicability of a New Sulfonated Pentablock Copolymer Membrane and Modified Gas Diffusion Layers for Low-Cost Water Splitting Processes" Energies 12, no. 11: 2064. https://doi.org/10.3390/en12112064

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