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Energy Application

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Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell applications

It is generally believed that Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) will become one of the main technologies used for power generation in the future. One of the main advantages of PEMFC technology is that it utilizes renewable resources to generate energy, unlike the majority of the current technologies which use fossil fuels.
The main goal of our research is to develop environmentally friendly high-performance hydrocarbon polymer electrolyte membranes for fuel cells. More specifically, our research is focused on polymer structure designs and characterization (TEM, SAXS) of various durable ion-exchange hydrocarbon aromatic polymers to originate ion conductive clustered morphology via nano-phase separation. Moreover highly durable and versatile electrospun porous supports can fabricate noble reinforced membranes with those ion conductive polymer materials which enable various membrane fabrication methods including nano-particle composite and fluorination surface modification.

Membrane Based Energy Harvesting System

The use of membrane technology is now expanding beyond the conventional membrane separation process (RO, NF, MF) and power generating system (Fuel cell), into the realm of renewable and environmental energy harvesting systems. Membrane-based salinity-gradient power is expected to become a leading energy harvesting system, utilizing the second largest marine-based energy source having a total global power potential of 1.4-2.6 TW. Innovative membrane developments can lead to breakthroughs in practical energy harvesting systems with specialized functional polymer membrane materials, creating a new platform and hybrid systems with water treatment processes.
MBL is focusing on the “Development of innovative original polymer membrane materials for energy harvesting” project, participating in the Nano Material Technology Development project through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. (2012M3A7B4049745)

Pressure Retarded Osmosis (PRO)

Pressure Retarded Osmosis (PRO) is one of the promising power generating systems using water flux through semipermeable membranes under the osmotic pressure from salinity gradient. The high water flux obtained by pressure retarded osmosis can achieve high power density with high operating pressure via turbine process in PRO system. Thermally Rearranged (TR) polymer and various types of polymer materials enable the fabrication of thin film composite membranes having outstanding mechanical property and high perm-selectivity for high power density output PRO system.
The main goal of our research is development innovative polymer materials with robust mechanical strength and high permeability. In addition, Optimization of PRO evaluation system for permeability, flux, salt rejection and simulated power density of membrane is our challenges.

Reverse Electrodialysis (RED)

Reverse Electrodialysis (RED) is a salinity gradient stack system based on ion exchange membranes including cation exchange membranes and anion exchange membranes by using the concentration difference of Na+, Cl- in aqueous solution respectively. In stack systems, membrane property determines the total electrochemical performances of the RED stack system as a key component. For conventional electrodialysis membranes, membrane resistances and ion permselectivity influenced by degree of functionalization, ion exchange capacity and swelling behaviors of ion exchange membranes exhibit typical inverse relationships similar to the permeability and selectivity relationship in gas separation.
In MBL, several types of aromatic hydrocarbon ion conductive polymer designed by various main structures and functional groups are introduced to the RED membranes with improved ion conductivity to enhance their resistances and permselectivity simultaneously for high power density of RED stacks. Moreover, several surface modification methods are being investigated for unusual ion transport behaviors to surpass the limits of trade-off relationship in RED applications.