Novel composite membrane based on zirconium phosphate-ionic liquids for high temperature PEM fuel cells

Author(s) A. Al-Othman, P. Nancarrow, M. Tawalbeh, A. Ka'ki, K. El-Ahwal, B.El Taher, M.Alkasrawi


Composite membranes composed of zirconium phosphate (ZrP) and imidazolium-based ionic liquids (IL), supported on polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) were prepared and evaluated for their application in proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEM) operating at 200 °C. The experimental results reported here demonstrate that the synthesized membrane has a high proton conductivity of 0.07 S cm-1, i.e, 70% of that reported for Nafion. Furthermore, the composite membranes possess a very high proton conductivity of 0.06 S cm-1 when processed at 200 °C under completely anhydrous conditions. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images indicate the formation of very small particles, with diameters in the range of 100e300 nm, within the confined pores of PTFE. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) reveals a maximum of 20% weight loss up to 500 °C for the synthesized membrane. The increase in proton conductivity is attributed to the creation of multiple proton conducting paths within the membrane matrix. The IL component is acting as a proton bridge. Therefore, these membranes have potential for use in PEM fuel cells operatingat temperatures around 200 °C.