Published: 22 November 2016

Greening the synthesis of membranes for electrochemical clean energy technologies

Research by academics in the department of chemistry has led to a greener synthesis of anion-exchange membranes for use in electrochemical energy technologies such as Alkaline Membrane Fuel Cells and Reverse Electrodialysis.

Dr Lianqin Wang (a postdoc in the Department of Chemistry) has just published a paper "An optimised synthesis of high performance radiation-grafted anion-exchange membranes" in the Royal Society of Chemistry's Green Chemistry journal. The paper discusses the synthesis of radiation-grafted anion-exchange membranes using water (and recycled water) instead of organic solvent as well as requiring reduced amounts of vinyl monomer and electron-beam absorbed doses. Desirably, the membranes synthesised using the cleaner protocol also exhibited higher performances than the benchmark examples made using an older (organic solvent based) method.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded study involved international collaborators including Prof William Mustain (a US-UK Fulbright Scholar from the University of Connecticut in the USA) and Prof Mohamed Nasef (a Royal Academy of Engineering Distinguished Visiting Fellow from the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia) who both conducted research in the department in the summer of 2016. The study also contained research by Emma Cunningham (a recent final year undergraduate project student at Surrey) and Emanuele Magliocca (an Erasmus student from the La Sapienza Università di Roma).

The research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) with grants EP/M014371/1, EP/M022749/1, EP/M005933/1, and EP/I004882/1 and was led by Prof John Varcoe and Dr Daniel Whelligan.

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