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Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering

Print version ISSN 0104-6632

Abstract

PARRONDO, J.; ORTUETA, M.  and  MIJANGOS, F.. Swelling behavior of PEMFC during conditioning. Braz. J. Chem. Eng. [online]. 2007, vol.24, n.3, pp. 411-419. ISSN 0104-6632.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0104-66322007000300010.

Polymeric cation exchange membranes (PEMFC) are used in fuel cell technology. These membranes act as a physical barrier between anode and cathode, but diffusion through the membrane should allow protons to be carried from anode to cathode at a rate sufficient to supply energy requirements. They avoid any direct reaction of oxygen and hydrogen that would diminish fuel cell efficiency. Membranes have to be conditioned before use. This conditioning step changes membrane counterions and modifies their water content, which has an effect on their diffusion coefficients. In order to analyse and quantify the effect of conditioning techniques on membrane performance various experiments with Nafion 117 cation exchange membranes were carried out. Membranes were conditioned using various methods to change the charged cation in the membrane. The reactives used were ultrapure water, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen peroxide, sodium chloride, potassium chloride and ethylene glycol, all at room temperature. Some conditioning methods were carried out using solvents heated to 100 ºC. Water content was indirectly monitored by measuring membrane swelling. Results show that membrane conditioning with strong acids followed by treatment with water increases membrane water content by about 5%. Using high-temperature treatment the water content also increases. Water uptake or release from membranes is analysed in terms of water activity.

Keywords : PEMFC; Cation exchange membrane; Swelling; Conditioning method; Fuel cell.

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