Covalently cross-linked polymer membranes were fabricated from poly(aryl sulfone benzimidazole) (SO(2) PBI) and poly(vinylbenzyl chloride) (PVBCl) as electrolytes for high-temperature proton-exchange-membrane fuel cells. The cross-linking imparted organo insolubility and chemical stability against radical attack to the otherwise flexible SO(2) PBI membranes. Steady phosphoric acid doping of the cross-linked membranes was achieved at elevated temperatures with little swelling. The acid-doped membranes exhibited increased mechanical strength compared to both pristine SO(2) PBI and poly[2,2'-(m-phenylene)-5,5'-bibenzimidazole] (mPBI). The superior characteristics of the cross-linked SO(2) PBI membranes allowed higher acid doping levels and, therefore, higher proton conductivity. Fuel-cell tests with the cross-linked membranes demonstrated a high open circuit voltage and improved power performance and durability.
Chemsuschem (print), 2013, Vol 6, Issue 2, p. 275-282