Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

3-D printing of patterned membranes opens door to rapid advances in membrane technology

03.06.2016

A new type of 3-D printing will make it possible for the first time to rapidly prototype and test polymer membranes that are patterned for improved performance, according to Penn State researchers.

Ion exchange membranes are used in many types of energy applications, such as fuel cells and certain batteries, as well as in water purification, desalination, removal of heavy metals and food processing. Most of these membranes are thin, flat sheets similar to the plastic wrap in your kitchen drawer.


Patterned membranes were created by 3-D printing.

Credit: Hickner Group/Penn State

However, recent work has shown that by creating 3-D patterns on top of the 2-D membrane surface, interesting hydrodynamic properties emerge that can improve ion transport or mitigate fouling, a serious problem in many membrane applications.

Currently, making these patterned membranes, also called profiled membranes, involves a laborious process of etching a silicon mold with the desired pattern, pouring in the polymer and waiting until it hardens. The process is both time-consuming and expensive, and results in a single pattern type.

"We thought if we could use 3-D printing to fabricate our custom-synthesized ion exchange membranes, we could make any sort of pattern and we could make it quickly," says Michael Hickner, associate professor of materials science and engineering, Penn State.

In a paper published online today in the American Chemical Society's journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, Hickner's team describes the development of a custom 3-D photolithographic printing process similar in concept to a current 3-D process called stereolithography.

The team developed a photocurable mixture of ionic polymers and exposed the mixture under a light projector to harden the base layer. They then added more polymer to the base layer and projected a pattern on the new material to selectively harden the surface. The surface pattern increases the conductivity of the membrane by as much as a factor of two or three.

"Membranes act like a resistor in a battery or fuel cell," says Hickner, who is also a member of the Materials Research Institute. "If you can lower the resistance by a factor of two or three, you've really got something useful."

The paper's lead author, Jiho Seo, a Ph.D. candidate in materials science and engineering , added, "While surface-patterned membranes have been studied previously, this is the first 3-D printed example of these structures and the first model that really explains the resistance decrease in a quantitative way.

A simple parallel resistance model describes the effect of the pattern on lowering the resistance of these new membranes. This insight gives us a design tool to continue to innovate and create new patterns for further improvements along with changing the intrinsic chemistry of the material."

The team will continue to optimize the geometry and chemistry of the membranes they print, as well as learn to print new materials, both for membranes and beyond, that have never been printed heretofore.

"We want to bridge the fundamental chemistry and materials science that we do with the engineering and rapid design iterations that the 3-D printing industry is really good at," Hickner concludes.

###

In addition to Seo and Hickner, Douglas Kushner, Ph.D. student in materials science and engineering, contributed to the paper, titled "3-D Printing of Micro-patterned Anion Exchange Membranes."

Support for the photolithography system was provided by Penn State Department of Materials Science and Engineering. The Materials Research Institute and the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment provided infrastructure support.

Media Contact

A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481

 @penn_state

http://live.psu.edu 

A'ndrea Elyse Messer | EurekAlert!

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht New design improves performance of flexible wearable electronics
23.06.2017 | North Carolina State University

nachricht Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics
22.06.2017 | American Chemical Society

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>