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Electrospun Composite Anion Exchange Membranes

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Technical Report

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Vanderbilt University Nashville United States

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The environmental impact of increasing carbon emissions along with the dwindling worldwide supply of oil has spurred strong interest in the area of alternative energy. In particular, fuel cell technologies have been identified as an excellent candidate for many applications, including replacing internal combustion engines in automobiles. A fuel cell is an electrochemical device where the chemical energy of a fuel and oxidant is directly converted into electricity. The most well-developed fuel cell technology is the proton exchange membrane fuel cell PEMFC, owing to the development by DuPont of the highly conductive polymer electrolyte membrane material, Nafion registered trademark. There are, however, serious impediments to widespread PEMFC commercialization such as the need for expensive platinum catalyst in the electrode layer and the significant cost of the Nafion registered trademark membranes. Another fuel cell scheme that has garnered increased research interest in recent years is the anion exchange membrane fuel cell AEMFC. In an AEMFC, oxygen at the cathode is reduced to OH- by reaction with water and electrons produced at the anode equation 1.1. At the anode, a fuel such as hydrogen gas or liquid methanol is electrochemically oxidized to give water and electrons equation 1.2. Between the anode and cathode is an anion exchange membrane, which facilitates the transport of OH- ions from the cathode to the anode and physically separates the anode and cathode to prevent mixing of the fuel and oxidant. A summary of the chemical reactions with theoretical standard half reaction potentials is provided below, with a schematic of an AEMFC shown in Figure 1.1.

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  • Electrochemical Energy Storage

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