Flexible Nanocellulose/Lignosulfonates Ion-Conducting Separators for Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells


The utilization of biobased materials for the fabrication of naturally derived ion-exchange membranes is breezing a path to sustainable separators for polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs). In this investigation, bacterial nanocellulose (BNC, a bacterial polysaccharide) and lignosulfonates (LS, a by-product of the sulfite pulping process), were blended by diffusion of an aqueous solution of the lignin derivative and of the natural-based cross-linker tannic acid into the wet BNC nanofibrous three-dimensional structure, to produce fully biobased ion-exchange membranes. These freestanding separators exhibited good thermal-oxidative stability of up to about 200 degrees C, in both inert and oxidative atmospheres (N(2)and O-2, respectively), high mechanical properties with a maximum Young's modulus of around 8.2 GPa, as well as good moisture-uptake capacity with a maximum value of ca. 78% after 48 h for the membrane with the higher LS content. Moreover, the combination of the conducting LS with the mechanically robust BNC conveyed ionic conductivity to the membranes, namely a maximum of 23 mS cm(-1)at 94 degrees C and 98% relative humidity (RH) (in-plane configuration), that increased with increasing RH. Hence, these robust water-mediated ion conductors represent an environmentally friendly alternative to the conventional ion-exchange membranes for application in PEFCs.




Science & Technology - Other Topics; Materials Science


Vilela, C; Morais, JD; Silva, ACQ; Munoz-Gil, D; Figueiredo, FML; Silvestre, AJD; Freire, CSR

nossos autores


This work was developed within the scope of the project CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials, UIDB/50011/2020 & UIDP/50011/2020, financed by national funds through the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT)/MCTES. FCT is also acknowledged for the doctoral grant to A.C.Q.S. (SFRH/BD/140230/2018) and the research contract under Scientific Employment Stimulus to C.V. (CEECIND/00263/2018). Additional funding to D.M.G. and F.M.L.F. through project UniRCell (SAICTPAC/0032/2015, POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016422) co-financed by FCT/MEC and FEDER under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement.

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