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Two-Dimensional Zeolitic Imidazolate Framework/Carbon Nanotube Hybrid Networks Modified Proton Exchange Membranes for Improving Transport Properties

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journal contribution
posted on 27.09.2017, 00:00 by Huazhen Sun, Beibei Tang, Peiyi Wu
Metal–organic framework (MOF)/polymer composite proton exchange membranes (PEMs) are being intensively investigated due to their potentials for the systematic design of proton-conducting properties. However, the development of MOF/polymer composite PEMs possessing high selectivity remains exceedingly desirable and challenging for practical application. Herein, two-dimensional (2D) zeolitic imidazolate framework (ZIF-8)/carbon nanotube (CNT) hybrid cross-linked networks (ZCN) were synthesized via the rational design of the physical form of ZIF-8, and then a series of composite PEMs were prepared by hybridizing ZCN with sulfonated poly­(ether ether ketone) (SPEEK) matrix. The effect of the incorporation of zero-dimensional (0D) raw ZIF-8 nanoparticles and 2D ZCN on the proton conduction and methanol permeability of the composite membranes was systemically studied. Benefiting from the morphological and compositional advantages of ZCN, the SPEEK/ZCN composite membranes displayed a significant enhancement in proton conductivity under various conditions. In particular, the proton conductivity of SPEEK/ZCN-2.5 membrane was up to 50.24 mS cm–1 at 120 °C-30% RH, which was 11.2 times that of the recast SPEEK membrane (4.50 mS cm–1) and 2.1 times that of SPEEK/ZIF membrane (24.1 mS cm–1) under the same condition. Meanwhile, the methanol permeability of the SPEEK/ZCN composite membranes was greatly reduced. Therefore, novel MOF/polymer composite PEMs with high selectivity were obtained. Our investigation results reveal that the proton conductivity and methanol permeability of the MOF/polymer composite membranes can be effectively tailored via creating more elaborate superstructures of MOFs rather than altering the chemical component. This effective strategy may provide a useful guideline to integrate with other interesting MOFs to design MOF/polymer composite membranes.