The effects of sulfonated poly(ether ether ketone) ion exchange preparation conditions on membrane properties


A low cost cation exchange membrane to be used in a specific bioelectrochemical system has been developed using poly(ether ether ketone) (PEEK). This material is presented as an alternative to current commercial ion exchange membranes that have been primarily designed for fuel cell applications. To increase the hydrophilicity and ion transport of the PEEK material, charged groups are introduced through sulfonation. The effect of sulfonation and casting conditions on membrane performance has been systematically determined by producing a series of membranes synthesized over an array of reaction and casting conditions. Optimal reaction and casting conditions for producing SPEEK ion exchange membranes with appropriate performance characteristics have been established by this uniquely systematic experimental series. Membrane materials were characterized by ion exchange capacity, water uptake, swelling, potential difference and NMR analysis. Testing this extensive membranes series established that the most appropriate sulfonation conditions were 60 °C for 6 h. For mechanical stability and ease of handling, SPEEK membranes cast from solvent casting concentrations of 15%-25% with a resulting thickness of 30-50 μm were also found to be most suitable from the series of tested casting conditions. Drying conditions did not have any apparent impact on the measured parameters in this study. The conductivity of SPEEK membranes was found to be in the range of 10-3 S cm-1, which is suitable for use as a low cost membrane in the intended bioelectrochemical systems. © 2013 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.