Water Soluble Polymers as Proton Exchange Membranes for Fuel Cells
The relentless increase in the demand for useable power from energy-hungry economies continues to drive energy-material related research. Fuel cells, as a future potential power source that provide clean-at-the-point-of-use power offer many advantages such as high efficiency, high energy density, quiet operation, and environmental friendliness. Critical to the operation of the fuel cell is the proton exchange membrane (polymer electrolyte membrane) responsible for internal proton transport from
... oton transport from the anode to the cathode. PEMs have the following requirements: high protonic conductivity, low electronic conductivity, impermeability to fuel gas or liquid, good mechanical toughness in both the dry and hydrated states, and high oxidative and hydrolytic stability in the actual fuel cell environment. Water soluble polymers represent an immensely diverse class of polymers. In this comprehensive review the initial focus is on those members of this group that have attracted publication interest, principally: chitosan, poly (ethylene glycol), poly (vinyl alcohol), poly (vinylpyrrolidone), poly (2-acrylamido-2-methyl-1-propanesulfonic acid) and poly (styrene sulfonic acid). The paper then considers in detail the relationship of structure to functionality in the context of polymer blends and polymer based networks together with the effects of membrane crosslinking on IPN and semi IPN architectures. This is followed by a review of pore-filling and other impregnation approaches. Throughout the paper detailed numerical results are given for comparison to today's state-of-the-art Nafion ® based materials.