Composite polymer electrolyte membranes comprising triblock copolymer and heteropolyacid for fuel cell applications

Jin Kyu Choi, Do Kyoung Lee, Yong Woo Kim, Byoung Ryul Min, Jong Hak Kim

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Hybrid organic/inorganic composite polymer electrolyte membranes consisting of a triblock copolymer (tBC) and varying concentrations of heteropolyacid (HPA) were investigated for application in proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC). An ABC triblock copolymer, that is, polystyrene-b-poly(hydroxyethyl acrylate)-b-poly (styrene sulfonic acid), PS-b-PHEA-b-PSSA, at 28:21:51 wt % was synthesized via atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) and solution-blended with a commercial HPA. Upon the incorporation of HPA into the tBC, the symmetric stretching bands of both the SO3- group (1187 cm-1) and the -OH group (3440 cm-1) shifted to lower wave-numbers (1158 and 3370 cm-1). The shift in these FTIR absorptions suggest that the HPA particles strongly interact with both the sulfonic acid groups in the PSSA domains and the hydroxyl groups in the PHEA domains. When the weight fraction of HPA was increased to 0.2, the room-temperature proton conductivity of the composite membrane increased from 0.048 to 0.065 S/cm, presumably because of the intrinsic conductivity of the HPA particles and the enhanced acidity of the sulfonic acid in the tBC. The water uptake of the composite membranes decreased from 130 to 48% with an increase of the HPA weight fraction to 0.4. The decrease in water uptake is likely a result of the decrease in the number of available water absorption sites because of the hydrogen bonding interaction between the HPA particles and the tBC matrix. Scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy images showed that the HPA nanoparticles with a diameter of 200-300 nm were uniformly distributed throughout the tBC matrix up to an HPA weight fraction of 0.4. Thermal stability of the composite membranes (decomposition temperature > 400 °C) was enhanced as compared with the pristine tBC membrane, presumably because of the strong specific interaction of the HPA particles with the sulfonic acid and hydroxyl groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-701
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Apr 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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