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How long's too long? Effects of crosslinker length on anion-exchange membrane fuel cells

Many efforts are being made worldwide to replace fossil fuels with greener alternatives. Hydrogen (H2) is a promising option that is currently in the spotlight; it can be used to generate electricity in fuel cells with water generated as the only byproduct. However, the technology is not quite ready for commercialization because proton-exchange membrane fuel cells, the most widely studied type, suffer from high cost and stability issues.

Scientists at Incheon National University recently carried out a study where they prepared long AEM polymers with ammonium ion-conducting groups and bound these molecules together using ethylene oxide (EO)-containing crosslinkers of various lengths. Through a wide variety of experiments, they compared AEMs with different crosslinker lengths in terms of their mechanical and thermal properties, water retention capacity, OH- ion conductivity, morphology, and stability.

The experiments helped the scientists elucidate the mechanisms by which excessive crosslinker length can ultimately degrade the performance of AEMs. After establishing the optimal length for their crosslinker, the researchers prepared an AEM fuel cell and found that the resulting performance was markedly better than that of AEM without oxygen crosslinking agent.



The Copper-Zinc battery adopts an electrolytic cell structure. It is easy and cheap to produce. Advantages of a Cu-Zn battery include scalability, long life, efficiency, and abundant materials to produce them. Although Cu-Zn batteries offer unique advantages, they do have a major drawback: lacking the ability to electrically recharge because Zinc is not easily oxidized.

Jiaxuan Li made a study on opper-Zinc battery’s performance with different electrolytes, whose result was published in the journal of Insight - Material Science.

This research evaluated how different electrolytes affect the voltage output of a battery. As one of the few types of devices capable of storing electrical energy, batteries are extremely efficient and reliable. They are widely adopted in a great number of devices, hence they are important to our daily life. How to construct better batteries will always be one of the most crucial challenges of energy developments. In this research the author tested two different salt solutions, NaCl solution and KOH solution, on a Cu-Zn cell to see which works better.

The author confirmed that in terms of performance, Potassium Hydroxide is a superior electrolyte for the Cu-Zn battery compared to NaCl; the author thought this is because the OH‒ ions in the KOH solution are better at carrying charges and metal particles.

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