Composite separators having a porous structure and including acid-stable, hydrophilic, inorganic particles enmeshed in a substantially fully fluorinated polyolefin matrix can be utilized in a number of applications. The inorganic particles can provide hydrophilic characteristics. The pores of the separator result in good selectivity and electrical conductivity. The fluorinated polymeric backbone can result in high chemical stability. Accordingly, one application of the composite separators is in redox flow batteries as low cost membranes. In such applications, the composite separator can also enable additional property-enhancing features compared to ion-exchange membranes. For example, simple capacity control can be achieved through hydraulic pressure by balancing the volumes of electrolyte on each side of the separator. While a porous separator can also allow for volume and pressure regulation, in RFBs that utilize corrosive and/or oxidizing compounds, the composite separators described herein are preferable for their robustness in the presence of such compounds.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This invention was made with Government support under Contract DE-AC0576RLO1830 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in the invention.