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INTERPENETRATING NETWORK POLYMER ELECTROLYTE MEMBRANE

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000214482D
Publication Date: 2012-Jan-31
Document File: 7 page(s) / 66K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

An interpenetrating network polymer electrolyte membrane (IPN-PEM) is disclosed. The IPN-PEM is an aromatic hydrocarbon polymer electrolyte membrane with interpenetrating network morphology. Such morphology is provided by co-existence of two polymer networks, at least one of which is synthesized and/or cross-linked in the immediate presence of the other. The two polymer networks may also contain reactive functionalities that allow the two polymer networks to be physically or covalently bound to each other. The two polymers form co-continuous network phases. One of the two polymer networks provides high proton conductivity and the other provides strong mechanical reinforcement. The IPN-PEM achieves a good balance between proton conductivity and water swell up to 120°C and improves membrane durability during fuel cell operation.

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Page 01 of 7

RP13209

INTERPENETRATING NETWORK POLYMER ELECTROLYTE MEMBRANE

BRIEF ABSTRACT

    An interpenetrating network polymer electrolyte membrane (IPN-PEM) is disclosed. The IPN-PEM is an aromatic hydrocarbon polymer electrolyte membrane with interpenetrating network morphology. Such morphology is provided by co-existence of two polymer networks, at least one of which is synthesized and/or cross-linked in the immediate presence of the other. The two polymer networks may also contain reactive functionalities that allow the two polymer networks to be physically or covalently bound to each other. The two polymers form co-continuous network phases. One of the two polymer networks provides high proton conductivity and the other provides strong mechanical reinforcement. The IPN-PEM achieves a good balance between proton conductivity and water swell up to 120°C and improves membrane durability during fuel cell operation.

KEYWORDS

Interpenetrating network, polymer electrolyte membranes, fuel cells,

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

    Fuel cells are a clean alternative power source. Use of a polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) in a fuel cell may be beneficial for automotive and other portable applications. Current PEM fuel cells mainly use perfluorosulfonic acid polymer membranes which have high proton conductivity and good chemical and mechanical stability under fully humidified conditions. However, the widespread use of these membranes is hampered by cost and poor performance of perfluorosulfonic acid polymer membranes at low relative humidity (RH).

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RP13209

    Another type of fuel cell membrane includes interpenetrating networks (IPNs). An IPN provides a combination of properties of constituent polymers. IPNs are formed by simultaneously or sequentially crosslinking two different polymer systems. Semi-IPNs are made by crosslinking one polymer in the presence of another. Polymer electrolyte IPNs have been extensively investigated for lithium ion conduction in lithium batteries. Recently, there have been some reports on the use of proton conducting semi-IPNs as fuel cell membranes. However, polymer electrolyte IPNs do not have the thermal and chemical or oxidative stability required for operation in high temperature PEM fuel cells.

    Hence there is a need for improved low-cost membrane materials that provide optimal performance and are hydrolytically, thermally, and chemically stable at fuel cell operational conditions.

    Accordingly, disclosed herein are interpenetrating network polymer electrolyte membranes (IPN-PEMs) that are thermally, hydrolytically, and chemically stable for use in high temperature fuel cells. Also, disclosed are methods to prepare a variety of semi-IPNs, which can be extended to IPNs. The disclosed IPN-PEMs are aromatic hydrocarbon polymer electrolyte membranes with interpenetrating network morphology. The IPN-PEMs comprise two polymers designed to form co-continuous network phases so that one of polymers provides high proton conduct...