Clean energy generation and storage are areas of intense interest as the world targets reductions in carbon emissions. At the heart of these technologies are polymer membranes that separate and transport the ions and electrical charge flowing through the devices. JMC is poised to make a contribution to this space through the manufacture of a range of Powerful Polymers.

Fuel cells are devices that react hydrogen and oxygen to produce energy with the only byproduct being water. Electrolysis cells are used to facilitate electrochemical reactions such as the refining of salts or splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. REDOX Flow batteries use liquid electrolytes to store energy. All of these devices rely on a polymer membrane that selectively transports charge while acting as a barrier to ion transport. One of the most commonly used polymers in these applications is the fluoro-copolymer,Nafion®. The global Nafion® market was valued at USD 787.85 million in 2022 and the growth in the use of clean energy technologies is expected to increase demand for Nafion® at a CAGR of 4.8% during the the next 10 years.¹

As the market for these clean technologies grow, opportunities are arising for alternative polymer membranes. Some of the challenges that may hamper the market growth are the high cost of Nafion® and the environmental concerns regarding fluoridated polymers that are increasingly being regarded as “forever chemicals”. Therefore, it is important  to focus on developing cost-effective and eco-friendly alternatives to Nafion® that can meet the diverse needs of different applications.

Two important types of polymers for these membrane applications are sulfonated hydrocarbon-based ionomers and sulfonated polysulfones. Both of these polymers are made using processes that are core capabilities of JMC. Sulfonating polymers generally requires the use of concentrated acids and the generation of large amounts of waste that must be neutralized. In manufacturing the world’s highest quality saccharin for over 70 years, JMC has developed the capability to do sulfonation reactions on a large scale, reliably and sustainably.

JMC is now poised to respond to growing market demand for these membrane polymers. Expanding the use of our sulfonation capabilities will enable us to provide these new, Powerful Polymers, to technology manufacturers across the entire clean energy industry. Stay tuned for more information as we develop specific products and partnerships that realize the potential of these Powerful Polymers.

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(1) Nafion Market Size, Share Global Analysis Report, 2023-2032 – Polaris.