Synthesis of Aromatic Anion Exchange Membranes by Friedel-Crafts Bromoalkylation and Cross-Linking of Polystyrene Block Copolymers

Jong Yeob Jeon, Sungmin Park, Junyoung Han, Sandip Maurya, Angela D. Mohanty, Ding Tian, Nayan Saikia, Michael A. Hickner, Chang Y. Ryu, Mark E. Tuckerman, Stephen J. Paddison, Yu Seung Kim, Chulsung Bae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Elastomeric anion exchange membranes (AEMs) were prepared by acid-catalyzed Friedel-Crafts alkylation of the polystyrene block of polystyrene-b-poly(ethylene-co-butylene)-b-polystyrene (SEBS) using bromoalkylated tertiary alcohols and triflic acid as a catalyst, followed by amination with trimethylamine. This simple one-step bromoalkylation allowed convenient control of both the degree of functionalization and cation tether length by changing the molar ratio and the structure of the bromoalkylated tertiary alcohol. The resulting quaternary ammonium-functionalized ionic triblock SEBS copolymers showed a microphase-separated morphology on the 35 nm length scale. A series of AEMs with different ion exchange capacities and ion tether lengths were systematically investigated by comparing swelling and anion conductivity. Because the SEBS AEMs showed high swelling and low dimensional stability in water due to the rubbery nature of SEBS, the hard segment PS units were cross-linked by 1,6-hexanediamine for practical use. The cross-linking of SEBS AEMs reduced water uptake significantly (e.g., 155% vs 28%) and enhanced their mechanical properties. Because the backbone of the SEBS AEMs are composed of all carbon-carbon bonds, they showed good alkaline stability, preserving their IEC and OH - conductivity after testing in a 1 M NaOH solution at 80 °C for 500 h. Alkaline membrane fuel cell performance was evaluated with the cross-linked SEBS AEM, and a peak power density of 520 mW/cm 2 was achieved at 60 °C under H 2 /O 2 conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2139-2147
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 12 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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