Poly(olefin)-Based Anion Exchange Membranes Prepared Using Ziegler-Natta Polymerization

Liang Zhu, Xuedi Yu, Xiong Peng, Tawanda J. Zimudzi, Nayan Saikia, Michael T. Kwasny, Shaofei Song, Douglas I. Kushner, Zhisheng Fu, Gregory N. Tew, William E. Mustain, Michael A. Yandrasits, Michael A. Hickner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Bromoalkyl-functionalized poly(olefin)s were synthesized by copolymerization of 4-(4-methylphenyl)-1-butene with 11-bromo-1-undecene using Ziegler-Natta polymerization. The resulting bromoalkyl-functionalized poly(olefin)s were converted to quaternary ammonium-containing anion-conductive copolymers by reacting the pendant bromoalkyl group with trimethylamine or a custom-synthesized tertiary amine containing pendant quaternary ammonium moieties. Poly(olefin)-based AEMs with three cations per side chain showed considerably higher hydroxide conductivities, up to 201 mS/cm at 80 °C in liquid water, compared to that of samples with only one cation per bromoalkyl site (68 mS/cm, 80 °C, liquid water), likely due to phase separation in the triple-cation structure. More importantly, triple-cation side-chain poly(olefin) AEMs exhibited higher hydroxide conductivity under relative humidity conditions (50%-100%) than typical AEMs based on benzyltrimethylammonium cations. The triple-cation the triple-cation side-chain poly(olefin)-based AEM exhibited an ionic conductivity as high as 115 mS/cm under 95% RH at 80 °C and 11 mS/cm under 50% RH at 80 °C. In addition to high ionic conductivity, the triple-cation side-chain poly(olefin) AEMs exhibited good chemical and dimensional stability. High retention of ionic conductivity (>85%) was observed for the samples in 1 M NaOH at 80 °C over 1000 h. Based on these high-performance poly(olefin) AEMs, a fuel cell with a peak power density of 0.94 W cm-2 (1.28 W cm-2 after iR correction) was achieved under H2/O2 at 70 °C. The results of this study suggest a new, low-cost, and scalable route for preparation of poly(olefin)-based AEMs for anion exchange membrane applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4030-4041
Number of pages12
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 11 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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