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Fabrication of a SGO/PVDF‐g‐PSSA composite proton‐exchange membrane and its enhanced performance in microbial fuel cells

Li, Chen, Wang, Lei, Wang, Xudong, Li, Cuicui, Xu, Qibin, Li, Guangyuan
Journal of chemical technology and biotechnology 2019 v.94 no.2 pp. 398-408
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, antifouling activities, biofouling, composite polymers, contact angle, crystals, graphene oxide, hydrophilicity, microbial fuel cells, power generation, quartz crystal microbalance, separators, styrene, sulfonic acid, thermoplastics, water uptake
BACKGROUND: Proton‐exchange membrane (PEM) has a significant effect on the performance and overall cost of microbial fuel cells (MFCs). In this study, a novel composite PEM is fabricated by compositing sulfonated graphene oxide (SGO) with the Poly(vinylidene fluoride)‐g‐Poly(styrene sulfonic acid) (PVDF‐g‐PSSA) copolymer. The performance of MFCs with these newly prepared composite PEMs as separators was evaluated. A Quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM‐D) combined with membrane‐coated sensor crystals was used to investigate the biofouling mechanism of PEMs in MFCs at a micro‐perspective. RESULTS: The successful sulfonation of GO was confirmed by Fourier transform infrared spectrometry and X‐ray photoelectron spectroscopy. When the SGO loading was 1.0 wt%, the SGO/PVDF‐g‐PSSA membrane had higher water uptake (32.56%), proton conductivity (0.083 S cm⁻¹) and excellent hydrophilicity (contact angle 70.78°) than that of Nafion 117. QCM‐D results further confirmed its better anti‐fouling property vs that of the PVDF‐g‐PSSA, GO/PVDF‐g‐PSSA, and Nafion 117 membranes. Moreover, the MFC working with the SGO/PVDF‐g‐PSSA membrane exhibited the highest maximum power density and best stability of power production after 3 months of operation. CONCLUSION: The SGO/PVDF‐g‐PSSA‐1.0 composite PEM can be used as an alternative material to Nafion in MFCs and is conducive to the long‐term stable operation of MFCs. © 2018 Society of Chemical Industry