Post-Hydration Crosslinking of Ion Exchange Membranes to Control Water Content

A Barnett and AL Clemens and JS Oakdale and V Molinero and JJ Karnes, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C, 127, 5613-5621 (2023).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.3c00074

The utilization of crosslinking as a technique to limit excess water uptake in ion exchange membranes is a well-established approach. However, traditional methods involve performing the crosslinking reaction before the membrane self segregates into hydrophilic and hydrophobic domains upon exposure to water. In this study, we employ numerical and molecular simulations to explore the potential of post hydration crosslinking of the polymer at subsaturated conditions. This process allows for the development of a nanosegregated morphology, which establishes well-connected but narrow water channels, while limiting additional sorption of water. The significant reduction in membrane swelling observed in our study indicates that post-hydration crosslinking could be a promising approach to regulate water uptake in ion exchange membranes. Based on our analyses, we propose chemical crosslinking strategies that may yield high membrane gel fractions.

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