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Protonic conductors for proton exchange membrane fuel cells: An overview

DOI: 10.2298/hemind0206264j

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At present, Nation, which is a perfluorinated polymer, is one of the few materials that deliver the set of chemical and mechanical properties required to perform as a good electrolyte in proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). However, Nation presents some disadvantages, such as limiting the operational temperature of the fuel system (So°C), because of its inability to retain water at higher temperatures and also suffers chemical crossover. In addition to these restrictions, Nation membranes are very expensive. Reducing costs and using environmentally friendly materials are good reasons to make a research effort in this field in order to achieve similar or even better fuel-cell performances. Glass materials of the ternary system SiO2-ZrO2-P2O5, hybrid materials based on Nation, and nanopore ceramic membranes based on SiO2 TiO2, Al2O3, etc. are considered at present, as promising candidates to replace Nation as the electrolyte in PEMFCs. These types of materials are generally prepared by sol-gel processes in order to tailor their channel-porous structure and pore size. In this communication, the possible candidates in the near future as electrolytes (including other polymers different than Nation) in PEMFCs are briefly reviewed. Their preparation methods, their electrical transport properties and conduction mechanisms are considered. The advantages and disadvantages of these materials with respect to Nation are also discussed.


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