Composite membranes based on a sulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone) and proton-conducting hybrid silica particles for high temperature PEMFCs

Ki Tae Park, Sang Gon Kim, Jeong Hwan Chun, Dong Hyun Jo, Byung Hee Chun, Woo In Jang, Gyung Bo Kang, Sung Hyun Kim, Ki Bong Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


The organic-inorganic composite membranes are prepared by inserting poly(styrene sulfonate)-grafted silica particles into a polymer matrix of sulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone) copolymer. The first step consisted in using atom transfer radical polymerization method to prepare surface-modified silica particles grafted with sodium 4-styrenesulfonate, referred to as PSS-g-SiO2. Ion exchange capacities up to 2.4 meq/g are obtained for these modified silica particles. In a second step, a sulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone) copolymer is synthesized via nucleophilic step polymerization of sulfonated 4,4′-dichlorodiphenyl sulfone, 4,4′-dichlorodiphenyl sulfone and phenolphthalin monomers in the presence of potassium carbonate. The copolymer is blended with various amounts of silica particles to form organic-inorganic composite membranes. Esterification reaction is carried out between silica particles and the sulfonated polymer chains by thermal treatment in the presence of sodium hypophosphite, which catalyzed the esterification reaction. The water uptake, proton conductivity, and thermal decomposition temperature of the membranes are measured. All composite membranes show better water uptake and proton conductivity than the unmodified membrane. Moreover, the membranes are tested in a commercial single cell at 80 °C and 120 °C in humidified H2/air under different relative humidity conditions. The composite membrane containing 10%(w/w) of PSS-g-SiO2 particles, which have ester bonds between polymer chains and silica particles, showed the best performance of 690 mA cm-2 at 0.6 V, 120 °C and 30 %RH, even higher than the commercial Nafion® 112 membrane.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10891-10900
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Aug

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was financially supported by the Honam Petrochemical Corporation .

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Composite membrane
  • High temperature
  • Low humidity
  • Proton exchange membrane fuel cell
  • Sulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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