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iO membrane
  Electrolyte Membranes for Fuel Cells
iO membrane

iO membranes mean inorganic/Organic Nano-Hybrid membranes in which inorganic oxides and organic polymers are chemically combined in a molecular scale (nano-scale). Due to the properties of inorganic oxides, they show high chemical resistance against oxidation and radical attack, as well as high thermal resistance to stand even in the environment over 200℃. We developed a technique for manufacturing the large-sized iO membranes in the original environmentally friendly aqueous process. New electrolyte membranes can be applied to fuel cells and catalysts used for chemical reactions. It is expected that further new applications will be opened up by introducing various functions of inorganic oxides into the polymers.

 
  Electrolyte Membranes for Fuel Cells

Fuel cells generate electric power by donating and accepting electrons through the outer electrical path between fuel and oxygen (air) separated with the electrolyte membrane. Continuous current is provided by proton (hydrogen ion) transfer through the electrolyte membrane. iO membranes containing tungstic acid as an inorganic member have proton conductivity and function as electrolyte membranes for fuel cells.
The conventional electrolyte membranes based on the pure organic polymers have serious problems with their cost. As organic polymers are originally weak against oxidation and radical attack, it is inevitable to employ special polymers, such as the fluorine polymers or the hydrocarbon engineering plastics. That is the reason for the high cost of the conventional membranes. iO membranes can solve this cost problem, because they have the nature of inorganic oxides and originally show high resistance against oxidation and radical attack even without employing special and expensive substances.

  Catalytic Membranes
 Metal Nano-particle Catalyst Membranes
are based on iO membranes in which nano-particles of metals, such as Pd, Ru and Rh, are formed by the original method during the membrane manufacturing process. The catalytic membranes can be used for various chemical reactions which the conventional metal catalysts can be used for. In the reaction solutions, substrates are absorbed into the membranes swelled by the solvent uptake, as a result, the chemical reactions proceed not only on the surface but inside the membranes. It brings high reaction activity, preventing elimination or aggregation of the metal nano-particles.
 
 Enantioselective Catalytic Membranes
are based on iO membranes in which enatioselective metal complex catalysts are immobilized. Enantioselective syntheses are often required in the pharmaceutical industry, and metal complex catalysts with chiral ligands are available for those kinds of syntheses. Although such metal complex catalysts are extremely expensive, it is a hard job to extract them perfectly from the reaction solution to recycle them. In order to solve this problem, we developed the new catalytic membranes in collaboration with ICCOM−CNR (institute for organometallic chemistry, Italy). In the new catalytic membranes, the metal complex catalysts are immobilized stably in iO membranes. By this technology, recyclability of the metal complex catalysts is remarkably improved to provide large cost effect for the pharmaceutical processes.
 
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