As an alternative to Nafion® ion exchange membrane, an inexpensive commercially-available Radel® polymer was sulfonated, fabricated into a thin membrane, and evaluated for its performance in a vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB). The sulfonated Radel (S-Radel) membrane showed almost an order of magnitude lower permeability of VO2+ ions (2.07 × 10 -7 cm2/min), compared to Nafion 117 (1.29 × 10 -6 cm2/min), resulting in better coulombic efficiency (~ 98% vs. 95% at 50 mA/cm2) and lower capacity loss per cycle. Even though the S-Radel membrane had a slightly higher membrane resistance, the energy efficiency of the VRFB with the S-Radel membrane was comparable to that of Nafion because of its better coulombic efficiency resulting from the lower vanadium ion crossover. The S-Radel membrane exhibited good performance up to 40 cycles, but a decline in performance at later cycles was observed, likely as a result of membrane degradation.
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