Journal of Membrane Science, Vol.322, No.2, 331-338, 2008
PPO-based acid-base polymer blend membranes for direct methanol fuel cells
New acid-base polymer blend membranes for direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC) have been designed using a very accessible commercial polymer, poly(2,6-dimethyl-1,4-phenylene oxide) (PPO). The preparation begins with the sulfonation and bromination of PPO to sulfonated PPO (SPPO) and bromomethylated PPO (BrPPO), respectively. Blend membranes are formed by mixing n-propylamine(PrNH2)-neutralized SPPO and PrNH2-aminated BrPPO solutions in N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP), and casting the mixed solution on glass petri dishes followed by acidification with aqueous hydrochloric acid. The compatibility between the acid and base components of the blend is assured by using acidic and basic polymers deriving from the same parent polymer (PPO). Ionic crosslinking is established between the sulfonic groups of SPPO and the amine groups of aminated BrPPO. The ionic crosslinking strengthens the membrane dimensional stability by reducing water uptake and membrane swelling up to temperatures as high as 80 degrees C. The membranes fabricated as such display good resistance to methanol crossover amidst some, but acceptable loss of proton conductivity. The characteristic factor (i.e. the ratio of proton conductivity to methanol permeability) increases noticeably with the BrPPO content, with the sample containing 30wt.% BrPPO showing a 16-fold improvement over Nafion 117. The mechanical properties and oxidative stability of the blend membranes also satisfy the requirements for fuel cell assembly and operation. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords:direct methanol fuel cell;proton exchange membrane;poly(phenylene oxide);acid-base polymer blends;ionic crosslinking