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Open AccessArticle

Transport Properties and Mechanical Features of Sulfonated Polyether Ether Ketone/Organosilica Layered Materials Nanocomposite Membranes for Fuel Cell Applications

1
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Technologies, University of Calabria, 87036 Rende, CS, Italy
2
National Center for Scientific Research “Demokritos”, 15310 Ag. Paraskevi Attikis, Athens, Greece
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Membranes 2020, 10(5), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes10050087
Received: 31 March 2020 / Revised: 18 April 2020 / Accepted: 27 April 2020 / Published: 29 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membranes: 10th Anniversary)
In this work, we study the preparation of new sulfonated polyether ether ketone (sPEEK) nanocomposite membranes, containing highly ionic silica layered nanoadditives, as a low cost and efficient proton exchange membranes for fuel cell applications. To achieve the best compromise among mechanical strength, dimensional stability and proton conductivity, sPEEK polymers with different sulfonation degree (DS) were examined. Silica nanoplatelets, decorated with a plethora of sulfonic acid groups, were synthesized through the one-step process, and composite membranes at 1, 3 and 5 wt% of filler loadings were prepared by a simple casting procedure. The presence of ionic layered additives improves the mechanical strength, the water retention capacity and the transport properties remarkably. The nanocomposite membrane with 5% wt of nanoadditive exhibited an improvement of tensile strength almost 160% (68.32 MPa,) with respect to pristine sPEEK and a ten-times higher rate of proton conductivity (12.8 mS cm−1) under very harsh operative conditions (i.e., 90 °C and 30% RH), compared to a filler-free membrane. These findings represent a significant advance as a polymer electrolyte or a fuel cell application. View Full-Text
Keywords: sulfonated polyether ether ketone; organosilica layered materials; nanocomposite membranes; pulsed field gradient nuclear magnetic resonance (PFG-NMR); proton conductivity; dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA); proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEM-FCs) sulfonated polyether ether ketone; organosilica layered materials; nanocomposite membranes; pulsed field gradient nuclear magnetic resonance (PFG-NMR); proton conductivity; dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA); proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEM-FCs)
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Simari, C.; Enotiadis, A.; Nicotera, I. Transport Properties and Mechanical Features of Sulfonated Polyether Ether Ketone/Organosilica Layered Materials Nanocomposite Membranes for Fuel Cell Applications. Membranes 2020, 10, 87.

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