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Development of polybenzimidazole and ionic liquid based membranes for high temperature proton exchange membranes (PEMs) and gas separation applications

Abstract : 1. High temperature Proton Exchange Membranes (HT-PEMs) for Fuel Cell applications:The success of the High temperature proton exchange membrane fuel cell (HT-PEMFC) direction is very much dependent on the development of the membrane material. With facilitated proton transport chemistries, great progresses in designing and fabricating facilitated PEMs have been accomplished. The objective of this first part of the PhD work was to fabricate highly conductive electrolyte membranes capable to operate above 120°C under anhydrous conditions and in the absence of mineral acids, without sacrificing the mechanical behavior. The followed rationale is based on the combination of polybenzimidazole (PBI) microsieves as structural supports and poly-imidazolium based ionic liquid (IL) moieties as conducting phase. Two types of PBI microsieves have been prepared following two different microfabrication processes: straight porous PBI and hierarchically structured PBI microsieves.Polymeric ionic liquids (PILs) have triggered great interest as all solid-state flexible electrolytes because of safety and superior thermal, chemical and electrochemical stability. In this part, the 1-H-3-vinylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide has been mainly selected due to its high proton conductivity, low water uptake values as well as thermal stability.The consecution of a polymeric container with optimized pore architecture is extremely essential since the performance of PEM based on immersing a porous support into ILs, mainly depends on the porous structure. Thus, our research efforts have been directed to improve both, the ion conductivity and the dimensional stability of the PIL supported PEMs by a proper design of the porous architecture. Herein, the diminished dimensional and mechanical stability of poly[1-(3H-imidazolium)ethylene]bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide has been improved thanks to its infiltration on a PBI support with specific pore architecture. The infiltration configuration, cross-linker addition and “in situ” UV polymerization conditions were taken as optimization parameters for both PBI type microsieves.2. Supported Ionic liquid membranes (SILMs) for methane upgrading:The natural gas upgrading, i.e. removal of CO2 and N2, is one of the major industrial gas separation application where membranes arise as promising alternative at small scale.The objective of this second part of the work was to develop CH4 selective Supported Ionic Liquid Membranes (SILMs). Once again, the rationale followed is based on the combination of PBI microsieves as structural supports, to take advantage of its endurance and thermal properties, and protic ILs with imidazolium and trifluoromethane sulfonyl)imide ions due to their CH4 solubility properties. Although the negligible protic IL vapor pressure alleviates one of the problems associated with traditional SILMs, namely liquid volatility; expulsion of the liquid from the membrane pores is a major concern. A proper design of the support, with sub-micron pores, combined with IL having high surface tension could lead to SILM with adequate physical stability for applications involving moderate to high trans-membrane pressures. Therefore, random porous PBI supports, obtained by phase separation method, have been extensively used. In addition, polymerization of RTILs could provide additional advantages in terms of safety, stability and mechanical properties.In this study, three classes of SILMs, based on PBI with the 1-H-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethane sulfonyl)imide, the 1-H-3-vinylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethane sulfonyl)imide and the poly[1-(3H-imidazolium)ethylene] bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide have been successfully fabricated and characterized by single gas permeation measurements. Results revealed that the prepared membranes were highly selective to CH4 and thus very promising for CH4/N2 gas mixture separation.
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Parashuram Kallem. Development of polybenzimidazole and ionic liquid based membranes for high temperature proton exchange membranes (PEMs) and gas separation applications. Other. Université Montpellier; Universidad de Zaragoza (Espagne), 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017MONTT196⟩. ⟨tel-01871369⟩

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