Proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) are the heart of promising hydrogen-fueled electric vehicles, and should lower their price and further improve durability. Therefore, it is necessary to enhance the performances of the proton-exchange membrane (PEM), which is a key component of a PEMFC. In this study, novel pore-filled proton-exchange membranes (PFPEMs) were developed, in which a partially fluorinated ionomer with high cross-linking density is combined with a porous polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) substrate. By using a thin and tough porous PTFE substrate film, it was possible to easily fabricate a composite membrane possessing sufficient physical strength and low mass transfer resistance. Therefore, it was expected that the manufacturing method would be simple and suitable for a continuous process, thereby significantly reducing the membrane price. In addition, by using a tri-functional cross-linker, the cross-linking density was increased. The oxidation stability was greatly enhanced by introducing a fluorine moiety into the polymer backbone, and the compatibility with the perfluorinated ionomer binder was also improved. The prepared PFPEMs showed stable PEMFC performance (as maximum power density) equivalent to 72% of Nafion 212. It is noted that the conductivity of the PFPEMs corresponds to 58–63% of that of Nafion 212. Thus, it is expected that a higher fuel cell performance could be achieved when the membrane resistance is further lowered.
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