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Zwitterionic poly (arylene ether sulfone) copolymers: membrane applications and fundamentals

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Zwitterionic polymers, due to their supurior capability of electrostatically induced hydration, have been considered as effective functionalities to alleviate bio-fouling of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes. Bulk modification of polysulfone-based matrices

Zwitterionic polymers, due to their supurior capability of electrostatically induced hydration, have been considered as effective functionalities to alleviate bio-fouling of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes. Bulk modification of polysulfone-based matrices to improve hydrophilicity, on the other hand, is favored due to the high membrane performance, processibility, and intrinsic chlorine resistance. Here a novel synthetic method was demonstrated to prepare zwitterionic poly(arylene ether sulfone) (PAES) copolymers, which was blended with native polysulfone (PSf) to fabricate free-standing asymmetric membranes via non-solvent induced phase separation process. Both the porosity of the support layer and surface hydrophilicity increased drastically due to the incorporation of zwitterion functionalities in the rigid polysulfone matrix. The water permeance and antifouling ability of the blend membranes were both remarkably improved to 2.5 Lm−2 h−1 bar−1 and 94% of flux recovery ratio, respectively, while salt rejection remained at a high level (98%) even under the high exposure to chlorine (8,000 ppm•h). Besides the preliminary blended membrane design, for the future membrane property enhancement, this dissertation also focused on polymer structure optimizations via elucidating the fundamentals from two perspectives: 1). Synthetic reaction kinetics and mechanisms on polycondensation of PAES. Interestingly, in combination of experiments and the computational calculations by density functional theory (DFT) methods in this work, only the aryl chlorides (ArCl) monomer follows the classical second-order reaction kinetics of aromatic nucleophilic substitution (SNAr) mechanism, while the kinetics of the aryl fluorides (ArF) reaction fit a third-order rate law. The third order reaction behavior of the ArF monomer is attributed to the activation of the carbon-fluorine bond by two potassium cations (at least one bounded to phenolate), which associate as a strong three-body complex. This complex acts as the predominant reactant during the attack by the nucleophile. 2). Optimized copolymer structures were developed for controlled high molecular weight (Mw ~ 65 kDa) and zwitterionic charge content (0~100 mol%), via off-set stoichiometry during polycondensations, following with thiol-ene click reaction and ring-opening of sultone to introduce the sulfobetaine functional groups. The structure-property-morphology relationships were elucidated for better understanding atomic-level features in the charged polymers for future high-performance desalination applications.

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  • 2019

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Novel anhydrous superprotonic ionic liquids and membranes for application in mid-temperature fuel cells

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This thesis studies three different types of anhydrous proton conducting electrolytes for use in fuel cells. The proton energy level scheme is used to make the first electrolyte which is

This thesis studies three different types of anhydrous proton conducting electrolytes for use in fuel cells. The proton energy level scheme is used to make the first electrolyte which is a rubbery polymer in which the conductivity reaches values typical of activated Nafion, even though it is completely anhydrous. The protons are introduced into a cross-linked polyphospazene rubber by the superacid HOTf, which is absorbed by partial protonation of the backbone nitrogens. The decoupling of conductivity from segmental relaxation times assessed by comparison with conductivity relaxation times amounts to some 10 orders of magnitude, but it cannot be concluded whether it is purely protonic or due equally to a mobile OTf- or H(OTf)2-; component. The second electrolyte is built on the success of phosphoric acid as a fuel cell electrolyte, by designing a variant of the molecular acid that has increased temperature range without sacrifice of high temperature conductivity or open circuit voltage. The success is achieved by introduction of a hybrid component, based on silicon coordination of phosphate groups, which prevents decomposition or water loss to 250ºC, while enhancing free proton motion. Conductivity studies are reported to 285ºC and full H2/O2 cell polarization curves to 226ºC. The current efficiency reported here (current density per unit of fuel supplied per sec) is the highest on record. A power density of 184 (mW.cm-2) is achieved at 226ºC with hydrogen flow rate of 4.1 ml/minute. The third electrolyte is a novel type of ionic liquids which is made by addition of a super strong Brønsted acid to a super weak Brønsted base. Here it is shown that by allowing the proton of transient HAlCl4, to relocate on a very weak base that is also stable to superacids, we can create an anhydrous ionic liquid, itself a superacid, in which the proton is so loosely bound that at least 50% of the electrical conductivity is due to the motion of free protons. The protic ionic liquids (PILs) described, pentafluoropyridinium tetrachloroaluminate and 5-chloro-2,4,6-trifluoropyrimidinium tetrachloroaluminate, might be the forerunner of a class of materials in which the proton plasma state can be approached.

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Date Created
  • 2013