Bipolar Membrane Catalysis

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University of Oregon Researchers are Producing Hydrogen via Membrane Water Electrolysis Using Earth Abundant Catalysts for Alkaline Exchange Membrane Electrolysis

Catalyzing heterolytic water dissociation (WD), H2O→H++OH, is practically important for accelerating electrocatalytic reactions that consume water and for fabricating bipolar-membrane (BPM) devices that couple different pH environments into a single electrochemical process. Slow water dissociation kinetics have led to bipolar membranes with poor electrochemical performance unsuitable for energy conversion technologies such as water electrolyzers.

Anion exchange membrane (AEM) electrolysis is a promising technology to produce hydrogen through the splitting of pure water. In contrast to proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology, which requires precious metal oxide anodes, AEM systems allow for the use of earth-abundant anode catalysts.

Bipolar membranes consist of a cation exchange membrane, an anion exchange membrane and a catalytic intermediate layer to accelerate the splitting of the water into protons and hydroxide ions. These novel bipolar membranes reduce the voltage that is required to dissociate water inside the bipolar membrane junction by application of metal oxide nanoparticles inside the junction between the anion exchange and cation exchange phase.

Current applications of bipolar membranes include electrodialysis, waste water treatment and more. Other potential uses that are currently strongly being investigated include fuel cells, electrolyzers, and desalination.

US Patent # 11,268,200



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For Information, Contact:
Christine Gramer
Senior Technology Development Associate
University of Oregon
Shannon Boettcher
Sebastian Oener
Marc Foster
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