Polymeric membranes with aligned zeolite nanosheets for sustainable energy storage

YS Xia and HY Cao and F Xu and YX Chen and Y Xia and DZ Zhang and LH Dai and K Qu and C Lian and K Huang and WH Xing and WQ Jin and Z Xu, NATURE SUSTAINABILITY, 5, 1080-+ (2022).

DOI: 10.1038/s41893-022-00974-w

Membrane technologies with low environmental impacts and ease of use have a wide spectrum of applications, with the potential to provide more sustainable solutions in domains such as water, energy and pollution treatment. However, the design of membranes is subject to a trade-off between ion conductivity and selectivity. Here we show a composite polymeric membrane that breaks this dilemma and supports both high proton conductivity (80.1 mS cm(-1)) and good vanadium ion selectivity (2.01 x 10(5) S min cm(-3)). Underlying this synthetic success is a flow-processing technique through which zeolite nanosheet fillers are oriented in a preferred direction throughout a polymer Nafion matrix. As a result, pairing this aligned membrane with a vanadium flow battery leads to a high energy efficiency of >80% at 200 mA cm(-2) and remarkable stability over 1,000 cycles. This work enables the design of membranes that combine otherwise mutually exclusively properties for many possible applications beyond energy storage. Membranes are at the heart of various technologies for water, energy and other sustainability relevant areas. Here the authors show a synthetic route to a polymeric membrane that breaks the conductivity-selectivity trade-off and enables exciting performance in a vanadium flow battery.

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