Water permeation through nafion membranes: the role of water activity

Paul Majsztrik, Andrew Bruce Bocarsly, Jay Burton Benziger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


The permeation of water through 1100 equivalent weight Nafion membranes has been measured for film thicknesses of 51-254 μm, temperatures of 30-80 °C, and water activities (aw) from 0,3 to 1 (liquid water). Water permeation coefficients increased with water content in Nation. For feed side water activity in the range 0 < aw 0.8, permeation coefficients increased linearly with water activity and scaled inversely with membrane thickness. The permeation coefficients were independent of membrane thickness when the feed side of the membrane was in contact with liquid water (a w = 1). The permeation coefficient for a 127 μm thick membrane increased by a factor of 10 between contacting the feed side of the membrane to water vapor (aw = 0.9) compared to liquid water (aw = 1). Water permeation couples interfacial transport across the fluid membrane interface with water transport through the hydrophilic phase of Nation. At low water activity the hydrophilic volume fraction is small and permeation is limited by water diffusion. The volume fraction of the hydrophilic phase increases with water activity, increasing water transport. As aw → 1, the effective transport rate increased by almost an order of magnitude, resulting in a change of the limiting transport resistance from water permeation across the membrane to interfacial mass transport at the gas/membrane interface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16280-16289
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 25 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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