A study of water electrolysis using ionic polymer-metal composite for solar energy storage
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Alicia Keow and Zheng Chen " A study of water electrolysis using ionic polymer-metal composite for solar energy storage ", Proc. SPIE 10171, Smart Materials and Nondestructive Evaluation for Energy Systems 2017, 1017104 (April 19, 2017)
Hydrogen gas can be harvested via the electrolysis of water. The gas is then fed into a proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) to produce electricity with clean emission. Ionic polymer-metal composite (IPMC), which is made from electroplating a proton-conductive polymer film called Nafion encourages ion migration and dissociation of water under application of external voltage. This property has been proven to be able to act as catalyst for the electrolysis of pure water. This renewable energy system is inspired by photosynthesis. By using solar panels to gather sunlight as the source of energy, the generation of electricity required to activate the IPMC electrolyser is acquired. The hydrogen gas is collected as storable fuel and can be converted back into energy using a commercial fuel cell. The goal of this research is to create a round-trip energy efficient system which can harvest solar energy, store them in the form of hydrogen gas and convert the stored hydrogen back to electricity through the use of fuel cell with minimal overall losses. The effect of increasing the surface area of contact is explored through etching of the polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) with argon plasma or manually sanding the surface and how it affects the increase of energy conversion efficiency of the electrolyser. In addition, the relationship between temperature and the IPMC is studied. Experimental results demonstrated that increases in temperature of water and changes in surface area contact correlate with gas generation.
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