AbstractThe present work focuses on the characterization of membranes for direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC), prepared using composites of
sulfonated poly(ether ether ketone) (sPEEK, with sulfonation degree, SD, of 42 and 68%) as polymer matrix. This polymer was inorganically
modified incorporating different amounts of zirconium phosphate (ZrPh) pretreated with n-propylamine and polybenzimidazole (PBI). The investigated properties were: proton conductivity, water and aqueous methanol swelling, permeability coefficients for DMFC species and morphology. DMFC tests were performed at 110 8C with relative humidity (r.h.) in the cathode feed of 100 and 138%. The results obtained show that the inorganic modification of the polymer decreases the proton conductivity, water and aqueousmethanol swelling and permeability towards DMFC species. In terms of morphology, it was found that the applied procedure enabled the preparation of membranes with good compatibility between inorganic and organic components. In terms of theDMFCtests of the compositemembranes, working with the cathode feed at 100%r.h.,
the unmodified sPEEKmembrane with SD = 42%proved to have the best performance, althoughwith higher methanol crossover. In contrast, for r.h. of 138%, the best performancewas achieved by the sPEEKcomposite membrane with SD = 68 and 20.0 wt.% of ZrPh and 11.2 wt.% of PBI.