Hybrid organic/inorganic composite polymer electrolyte membranes based on a poly(vinylidene fluorideco-chlorotrifluoroethylene) grafted membrane and varying concentrations of zeolite were investigated for application in proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC). A proton conducting comb copolymer consisting of poly(vinylidene fluoride-co-chlorotrifluoroethylene) backbone and poly(styrene sulfonic acid) (PSSA) side chains, i.e. P(VDFco-CTFE)-g-PSSA (graft copolymer) with 47 wt% of PSSA was synthesized using atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) and solution blended with zeolite. Upon incorporation of zeolite, the symmetric stretching band of both SO-3 group (1169 cm-1) and the -OH group (3426 cm-1) shifted to lower wavenumbers. The shift in these FT-IR spectra suggests that the zeolite particles strongly interact with the sulfonic acid groups of PSSA chains. When the weight percent of zeolite 5A is above 7%, the proton conductivity at room temperature was reduced to 0.011 S/cm. The water uptake of the composite membranes decreased from 234 to 125% with an increase of the zeolite 5A weight percent to 10 wt%. 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 interactions between the zeolite particles and the graft copolymer matrix. This behavior is successfully investigated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The results of thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) also showed that all the membranes were stable up to 300°C.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Polymers and Plastics