Poly(2, 5-benzimidazole)-based polymer electrolyte membranes for high-temperature fuel cell applications
2010-11-02T10:01:29Z (GMT) by
Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) are one of the most promising clean technologies under development. However, the main obstacles for commercialising PEMFCs are largely attributed to the technical limitations and cost of current PEM materials such as Nafion. Novel poly(2,5-benzimidazole) (ABPBI)/POSS based polymer composite electrolyte membranes with excellent mechanical and conductivity properties were developed in this project including (I) ABPBI, polybenzimidazole (PBI) and their copolymers were synthesised by solution polymerisation and their chemical structures were confirmed by FTIR and elemental analysis. ABPBI/ActaAmmonium POSS (ABPBI/AM) and ABPBI/TriSilanolPhenyl POSS (ABPBI/SO) composites were also synthesised in situ. High quality polymer and composite membranes were fabricated by a direct cast method; and (II) The mechanical and thermal properties, microstructure and morphology, water and H3PO4 absorbility and proton conductivity of phosphoric acid doped and undoped ABPBI and ABPBI/POSS composite membranes were investigated. SEM/TEM micrographs showed that a uniform dispersion of POSS nano particles in ABPBI polymer matrix was achieved. The best performances on both mechanical properties and proton conductivities were obtained from the ABPBI/AM composite membrane with 3 wt% of POSS (ABPBI/3AM). It was found that both the water and H3PO4 uptakes were increased significantly with the addition of POSS due to formation of hydrogen bonds between the POSS and H2O/H3PO4, which played a critical role in the improvement of the conductivity of the composite membranes at temperatures over 100oC. ABPBI/3AM membranes with H3PO4 uptake above 117% showed best proton conductivities at both hydrous and anhydrous conditions from room temperature to 160oC, which is comparable with the conductivity of commercial Nafion 117 at 20oC in water-saturated condition, indicating that these composite membranes could be excellent candidates as a polymer electrolyte membrane for high temperature applications. A new mechanism for illustrating the improved proton conductivity of composite membranes was also developed.