Analysis and characterization of an atropisomeric ionomer containing quaternary ammonium groups

Chen, J-C, Chen P-Y, Chen H-Y, Chen K-H.  2018.  Analysis and characterization of an atropisomeric ionomer containing quaternary ammonium groups. Polymer. 141:143-153.


Polyethersulfone ionomers containing quaternary ammoniums were prepared for the applications on alkaline anion exchange membrane (AAEM) fuel cells. The ionomers were synthesized from 2,2′-dimethyl-4,4′-biphenyldiol and bis(4-chlorophenyl) sulfone via nucleophilic substitution followed by bromination, quaternization and anion exchange reaction. The biphenyl structure in polymer main chain exhibited atropisomerism after bromination, leading to the anisochronous signals of geminal protons on bromomethyl groups in 1H NMR spectra. Model compounds were synthesized to confirm the atropisomerism by EI mass and 1H NMR spectra. The resonance peaks from five possible repeating units of brominated polyethersulfones in the 1H NMR spectra were identified and discussed in detail. The rotational barriers of biphenyl structures containing brominated methyl groups at 2 and 2′ positions were calculated by density functional theory. The properties of these polyethersulfone anion exchange membranes (AEMs) were characterized. Their IECs ranged from 0.81 to 1.75 mequiv/g. The corresponding water uptakes and dimensional changes were in the ranges of 19–42% and 12–38%, respectively. The tensile strength of an AEM (1.75MQAPES-OH) with an IEC of 1.75 mequiv/g remained 17 MPa even though the water uptake was 42%. The hydroxide conductivity of 1.75MQAPES-OH could reach 51.4 mS/cm at 98%RH and 80 °C. After alkaline stability test for 168 h, the AEMs degraded slightly in terms of their IECs and hydroxide conductivity.