Tuning the Electrochemical Properties of Novel Asymmetric Integral Sulfonated Polysulfone Cation Exchange Membranes

Ahmet Halil Avci, Cédric Van Goethem, Timon Rijnaarts, Sergio Santoro*, Marco Aquino, Gianluca Di Profio, Ivo F. J. Vankelecom, Wiebe M. De Vos, Enrica Fontananova*, Efrem Curcio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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In this study, novel asymmetric integral cation exchange membranes were prepared by the wet phase inversion of sulfonated polysulfone (SPSf) solutions. SPSf with different degrees of sulfonation (DS) was synthesized by variation in the amount of chlorosulfonic acid utilized as a sulfonating agent. The characterization of SPSf samples was performed using FTIR and 1H-NMR techniques. SPSf with a DS of 0.31 (0.67 meq/g corresponding ion exchange capacity) was chosen to prepare the membranes, as polymers with a higher DS resulted in poor mechanical properties and excessive swelling in water. By a systematic study, the opportunity to tune the properties of SPSf membranes by acting on the composition of the polymeric solution was demonstrated. The effect of two different phase inversion parameters, solvent type and co-solvent ratio, were investigated by morphological and electrochemical characterization. The best properties (permselectivity of 0.86 and electrical resistance of 6.3 Ω∙cm2) were obtained for the membrane prepared with 2-propanol (IPA):1-Methyl-2-pyrrolidinone (NMP) in a 20:80 ratio. This membrane was further characterized in different solution concentrations to estimate its performance in a Reverse Electrodialysis (RED) operation. Although the estimated generated power was less than that of the commercial CMX (Neosepta) membrane, used as a benchmark, the tailor-made membrane can be considered as a cost-effective alternative, as one of the main limitations to the commercialization of RED is the high membrane price. 
Original languageEnglish
Article number265
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2021


  • Cation exchange membrane
  • Chlorosulfonation
  • Electrochemical characterization
  • Reverse electrodialysis
  • Sulfonated polysulfone


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