Bipolar Membranes for Electrochemical Technologies
The electrochemical splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen gas is a technology of growing importance in the clean energy sector. Emerging technologies are employing membranes to provide physical separation of the cathode and anode compartments, thereby separating the product gases, while allowing ions to flow between the compartments to maintain the electrochemical reactions taking place. Electrolyzers typically operate using acidic electrolytes, where proton exchange membranes are used to transport H+ ions formed at the anode across to the cathode, where they can be reduced to produce H2. Recently, anion exchange membranes have emerged as potential membrane candidates in electrolyzers, as the use of alkaline electolytes allows for use of inexpensive electrocatalysts as electrode materials. In the future, PEM and AEM based materials will be combined to form bipolar membranes, which will allow electrolyzers to operate under acidic conditions at the cathode and basic conditions at the anode. This will allow the use of tailored catalysts and offer opportunities to enhance efficiency, reduce energy consumption and reduce materials costs. This proposal expands on previous Mitacs projects (IT10706 and IT12984) and focuses on developing advanced bipolar membranes that incorporate novel PEM and AEM materials developed at SFU.