Novel multifunctional polymer films using polyethylene for environmental and energy applications were synthesized. Super oil sorbent polymer (oil-SAP) for efficient oil spill remedy was first produced and with slight modification used as a composite electrolyte membrane for fuel cell applications. The usage of synthetic polymers as oil sorbents, in particular, polyolefins, including polypropylene (PP), and polyethylene (PE) are the most commonly used oil sorbent materials mainly due to their low cost. However, they possess relatively low oil sorption capacities. Attempts at trying to increase the surface to thickness ratio for improving uptake capacity makes them vulnerable to breakage and impractical to be used in most oil spill applications. Besides the saturation contact time of these sorbents with oil is too long to be used in applications where the first few hours are crucial as the critical stage of spreading occurs within the first hour. To address this issue, super oil sorbent polymer film consisting of porous ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene was prepared. The presented sorbent exhibits extremely high oil uptake with super-fast oil uptake speed, high retention capacity along with a mechanically strong structure. The combination of these factors as well as the cost effectiveness of the material used makes these sorbent films viable candidates for widespread production and utilization A novel composite electrolyte membrane, consisting of polyethylene substrate and Nafion ionomer, was also manufactured. Nafion is by far the most widely used electrolyte in the fuel cell industry because of its excellent proton conductivity. Yet, it suffers from several drawbacks such as high fuel crossover and low mechanical strength, which lower the fuel cell performance and disturb the structural integrity. In order to deal with these problems, we have prepared an NPE (Nafion-polyethylene) composite that is composed of a porous substrate and a filling electrolyte. Nafion was used as a filling electrolyte and was impregnated into the pores of porous substrate made up of polyethylene. The polymer backbone serves as a structural support and blocks the crossover while the impregnated Nafion molecules provide the proton conducting path. Systematic characterization of NPE is also presented.


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