(Electro-)chemical membrane reactor

Polymer electrolyte membranes (PEM) consist of ionomer materials where acidic or basic functionalities account for the ion flow through the material. Our specialty is the introduction of an additional inorganic phase into the polymer to enhance chemical, mechanical and thermal stability and to increase the barrier function for other substances e.g. fuel, oxidant and intermediates.

We are working in the field of fuel cells, electrolysers and in the electrochemical transformation of carbon dioxide into valuable products. Of special importance is the interface between the electrode, the catalyst layer and the membrane. E.g. for direct alcohol fuel cells we have developed an aqueous sPEEK-based binder system to optimize compatibility of these layers and we apply these layers by a screenprint technique. Thereby requirements range from an appropriate porosity for the supply and removal of reactants to low electrical resistance.

Besides the coupling to electrochemical processes membranes can also directly be used to shift thermodynamic equilibria as in the case of water splitting or to decrease kinetic hindrance as in the case of greenhouse gas nitreous oxide splitting. Reactants can be dosed by the membranes e.g. for selective hydrogenation, or micropollutants can be degraded effectively on catalytic active membrane surfaces.

Our research

Membranes for direct ethanol fuel cells

Fraunhofer IGB develops innovative membranes for the electrocatalytical conversion of ethanol inside direct ethanol fuel cells.