Sulfonated montmorillonite/sulfonated poly(ether ether ketone) (SMMT/SPEEK) nanocomposite membrane for direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs)


A nanocomposite membrane of sulfonated montmorillonite/sulfonated poly(ether ether ketone) (SMMT/SPEEK) is proposed for direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs). The SMMT is clay modified with silane of which the structure consists of a sulfonic acid group for proton conductivity improvement. The micro- and nano-scaled morphologies of the membranes perform the increase in inorganic aggregation with SMMT loading content as confirmed by SEM and AFM. The membrane stability, i.e., the liquid uptake in water and in methanol aqueous solution, as well as the mechanical stability increases with the SMMT loading content whereas thermal stability does not improve significantly. The methanol permeability reduction is obtained when the SMMT loading content increases for various methanol concentrations (1.5–4.5 M). A comparative study of the SPEEK nanocomposite membranes with SMMT and with pristine MMT shows fourfold proton conductivity enhancement after sulfonation. The DMFC single cell tests inform us that all nanocomposite membranes give the significant performance revealed by the plot of current density–voltage and power density.
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