458928 Impact of Molecular- and Mesoscales on Macroscopic Thermodynamic and Transport Properties in Perfluorosulfonic-Acid Membrane Using Multiscale Modeling

Monday, November 14, 2016: 2:00 PM
Powell (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Andrew Crothers, Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA; Energy Conversion Group, Energy Technologies Area (ETA), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,, Berkeley, CA, Clayton J. Radke, University of Califonia, Berkeley, Shouwen Shi, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA; School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China and Adam Weber, Energy Conversion Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA

Performance of polymer-electrolyte-fuel-cells (PEFCs) links strongly to thermodynamic and mass-transport properties of the polymer membrane. The quintessential PEFC-membrane material is perfluorosulfonic-acid (PFSA) polymer, which phase separates into nanoscale hydrophilic water-filled domains through which ions and water transport and into hydrophobic polymer-matrix domains that provide structural integrity and durability. Although considerable progress has been made to reduce reactant mass-transport limitations in PFSA membranes, mass-transport is still a critical area of concern. Aqueous electrolyte transport across a phase-separated membrane is inherently a multiscale problem with aqueous-dissolved species moving through nanoscale domains that are connected to form a transport network at the intermediate mesoscale. To guide the optimization of PEFC material design and operation, we decouple the impact of micro and macro length-scale on mass transport in PEFC membranes.

Specifically, molecular-scale interactions between aqueous-electrolyte and polymer in hydrophilic domains of PFSA membranes are modeled with mean-field local-density theory aligned with an experimentally consistent 3D domain geometry. Our molecular-scale description of membrane conductivity accounts for solvation, electrostatics, solvent dielectric saturation, finite size, and confinement effects. The microscale framework is validated against atomistic simulations and, subsequently, up-scaled to predict macroscale conductivity and solvent absorption by accounting for the interconnectedness of the hydrophilic domains. Excellent agreement is found with experimental data. Our proposed multiscale model for membrane conductivity and solvent sorption provides a new tool to explore potential avenues for improving PFSA membrane performance.

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See more of this Session: Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC) and Electrolyzers
See more of this Group/Topical: Transport and Energy Processes