Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
Nanocomposite membranes incorporating electrospun nanofibers of SPEEK, blended with 30 wt% PVB within a water-based matrix of SPEEK with 35 wt% PVA using water as solvent, were prepared and characterized for their application as Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFCs) in H-2/O-2 operating at low temperatures. Compared with a dense bulk phase, an improvement of proton conductivity in the SPEEK-30PVB nanofiber framework was observed. The incorporation of the SPEEK-30PVB nanofibers provides mechanical improvement while the matrix phase of SPEEK-35PVA emphasizes the proton conductivity at crosslinking temperatures up to 140 degrees C. PEMFC performance tests showed promising results for the use of these novel low cost membranes. The nanocomposite membrane reached a power density which is 25% higher than that of Nafion117 membranes with MEAs constructed with Pt loading in anode and in cathode. However, when the Pt of the cathode is substituted by Ru3Pd6Pt, the power density is lower in Nafion117 MEAs than in the nanocomposite. When used commercial Pt-carbon cloth (Pt-ETEK) for the electrodes, the power density achieved is 1.4 times higher for the Nafion117 MEAs than SPEEK nano-composites. The differences observed in performance is attributed to the large polarization losses found in the composite membranes because of the interfacial phenomena associated with the use of commercial Nafion-based electrodes.