Delaware Patent of the Month – September 2023

Xergy Inc., world leader in the development of advanced composite ion exchange membranes, has recently been granted a patent for their multilayered ion exchange membranes.

The company, which was acquired by Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) in 2021, has continually committed their expertise to the design and development of membranes capable of conducting a broad range of ions including cations and anions.

Their multilayered ion exchange membrane comprises multiple layers of ionic polymers, each with substantially different chemical compositions. These differences encompass varying side chain lengths, varying backbone chemistries, or varying ionic functionalities. The result? A membrane with unparalleled versatility and performance.

At its core, this innovation addresses the critical issue of fuel crossover. In the realm of fuel cells, especially proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, the reduction of hydrogen crossover is paramount. Xergy’s composite membrane tackles this challenge head-on, offering superior hydrogen crossover performance compared to traditional alternatives.

What sets this invention apart is its ability to utilize completely different chemistries within a single membrane. Imagine one layer reducing fuel crossover, while another imparts hydrophobicity to the electrode formulation. This composite membrane can selectively diffuse reactants while excluding others, all thanks to its diverse chemical compositions.

The key feature of this invention lies in its multi-layered structure. These layers can have substantially different properties, making it a versatile solution for various applications. Whether it’s enhancing mechanical properties, chemical resistance, or ionic conductivity, this composite ion exchange membrane rises to the occasion.

To create this marvel, Xergy employs a meticulous process. They start by providing two distinct solutions of perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA) polymers with different equivalent weights in mixtures of water and alcohol. These solutions, along with a porous reinforcement material, are then applied to create the multi-layered membrane. The porous reinforcement material acts as a scaffold, imbibed with multiple layers of various functionalized ionic polymers.

The applications of this composite ion exchange membrane are boundless. From fuel cells to electrodialysis systems, it opens up new possibilities for enhanced performance, reduced crossover, and improved efficiency. This innovation has the potential to revolutionize the way we generate power, produce gases, and compress gases in various electrochemical devices.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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