The Alkali Degradation of LDPE-Based Radiation-Grafted Anion-Exchange Membranes Studied Using Different ex situ Methods

Kelly Meek, Carly Reed, Bryan Pivovar, Klaus-Dieter Kreuer, John Varcoe, Rashida Bance-Soualhi

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18 Scopus Citations


Radiation-grafted anion-exchange membranes (RG-AEM) in alkaline membrane fuel cells (AEMFC) exhibit promising performances (low in situ resistances, high power outputs and reasonably high alkali stabilities). Much research is focused on developing AEMs with enhanced chemical stabilities in the OH--forms at temperatures >60 °C. This study contributes towards this effort by providing a comparison of three different ex situ methods of screening alkali stabilities (where different laboratories conducted experiments on exactly the same batches of RG-AEM). Vinylbenzyl chloride monomer was radiation-grafted onto 25 µm thick low-density polyethylene (LDPE) precursor film in a single batch. This batch of grafted membrane was then split into three sub-batches, which were converted into RG-AEMs via amination with either: trimethylamine (TMA), N-methylpyrrolidine (MPY), or N-methylpiperidine (MPIP). Samples of each RG-AEM (L-AEM-TMA, L-AEM-MPY, and L-AEM-MPIP) were then distributed between the three collaborating institutes for evaluation using each institutes' test protocols. Out of the three head-group chemistries, the L-AEM-TMA generally exhibits the best balance of conductivity and ex situ alkali degradation, especially in lower humidity environments. The L-AEM-TMA also exhibited interestingly high Cl- ion conductivities (ca. 100 mS cm-1) when heated to 80 °C in a relative humidity RH = 95% atmosphere, a measurement frequently overlooked in favour of determining conductivities of RG-AEMs submerged in water (conductivities of submerged RG-AEMs can be suppressed due to excessive water contents and swelling).
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)36467-36477
Number of pages11
JournalRSC Advances
Issue number60
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-78120


  • alkaline membrane fuel cells
  • anion-exchange membranes
  • electrochemistry


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