The physiochemical properties of Nafion 115 and a composite Nafion 115/zirconium phosphate (∼25 wt.%) membranes are compared. The composite membrane takes up more water than Nafion at the same water activity. However, the proton conductivity of the composite membrane is slightly less than that for Nafion 115. Small angle X-ray scattering shows that the hydrophilic phase domains in the composite membrane are spaced further apart than in Nafion 115, and the composite membrane shows less restructuring with water uptake. Despite the lower proton conductivity of the composite membranes they display better fuel cell performance than Nafion 115 when the fuel cell is operated at reduced humidity conditions. It is suggested that the composite membrane has a greater rigidity that accounts for its improved fuel cell performance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Filtration and Separation
- Composite membranes
- Fuel cells
- Water sorption and diffusion