Composite membranes used for proton exchange membrane fuel cells comprising of polybenzimidazole (PBI) and carbon nanotubes with certain functional groups were studied, because they could enhance both the mechanical property and fuel cell performance at the same time. In this study, sodium poly(4-styrene sulfonate) functionalized multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNT-poly(NaSS))/PBI and imidazole functionalized multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNT-imidazole)/PBI composite membranes were prepared. The functionalization of carbon nanotubes involving non-covalent modification and covalent modification were confirmed by FITR, XPS, Raman spectroscopy, and TGA. Compared to unmodified MWNTs and MWNT-poly(NaSS), MWNT-imidazole provided more significant mechanical reinforcement due to its better compatibility with PBI. For MWNT-poly(NaSS)/PBI and MWNT-imidazole/PBI composite membranes at their saturated doping levels, the proton conductivities were up to 5.1 × 10-2 and 4.3 × 10-2 S/cm at 160°C under anhydrous condition respectively, which were slightly higher than pristine PBI (2.8 × 10-2 S/cm). Also, MWNT-poly(NaSS)/PBI and MWNT-imidazole/PBI composite membranes showed relatively improved fuel cell performance at 170°C compared to pristine PBI.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Fuel Technology
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology