Effects of sulfonated polyether-etherketone (SPEEK) and composite membranes on the proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) performance

Sengul E., Erdener H., Akay R. G., YÜCEL H., BAÇ N., Eroglu I.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HYDROGEN ENERGY, vol.34, no.10, pp.4645-4652, 2009 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 34 Issue: 10
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.ijhydene.2008.08.066
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.4645-4652
  • Keywords: PEM fuel cells, SPEEK, Composite membrane, Zeolite beta, Membrane electrode assembly (MEA), STACK, ELECTRODE, ACID
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Sulfonated polyether-etherketone (SPEEK) has a potential for proton exchange fuel cell applications. However, its conductivity and thermohydrolytic stability should be improved. In this study the proton conductivity was improved by addition of an aluminosilicate, zeolite beta. Moreover, thermohydrolytic stability was improved by blending poly-ether-sulfone (PES). Sulfonated polymers were characterized by H-NMR. Composite membranes prepared were characterized by Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) for their proton conductivity. Degree of sulfonation (DS) values calculated from H-NMR results, and both proton conductivity and thermohydrolytic stability was found to strongly depend on DS. Therefore, DS values were controlled time in the range of 55-75% by controlling the reaction time. Zeolite beta fillers at different SiO2/Al2O3 ratios (20, 30, 40, 50) were synthesized and characterized by XRD, EDX, TGA, and SEM. The proton conductivity of plain SPEEK membrane (DS = 68%) was 0.06 S/cm at 60 degrees C and the conductivity of the composite membrane containing of zeolite beta filled SPEEK was found to increase to 0.13 S/cm. Among the zeolite Beta/SPEEK composite membranes the best conductivity results were achieved with zeolite beta having a SiO2/Al2O3 ratio of 50 at 10 wt% loading. Single fuel cell tests performed at different operating temperatures indicated that SPES/SPEEK membrane is more stable hydrodynamically and also performed better than pristine SPEEK membranes which swell excessively. Membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) were prepared by gas diffusion layer (GDL) spraying method. The highest performance of 400 mA/cm(2) was obtained for SPEEK membrane (DS 56%) at 0.6 V for a H-2-O-2/PEMFC working at 1 atm. and 70 degrees C. At the same conditions Nafion (R) 112 gave 660 mA/cm(2). It was observed that the operating temperature can be increased up to 90 degrees C with polymer blends containing poly-ether-sulfone (PES). (c) 2008 International Association for Hydrogen Energy. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.