This Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase II project will result in new Proton Exchange Membranes (PEMs) that are low cost and useful above 100 degrees C. PEMs require condensed water to attain useful conductivities. At temperatures above 100 degrees the PEM dries out and conductivity drops drastically. But high temperature is preferred for optimal performance of state-of-the-art oxidation catalyst systems. At very high sulfonic acid concentration the boiling point of water in the membrane is elevated and higher operating temperatures are possible. Phase II will extend Phase I discovery of conditions for sulfonating chemically inert polymers. We propose a new method of manufacture of very high sulfonic acid content membranes that results in mechanically strong films. The process can be run in batch or continuous mode and is projected to produce low cost PEMs.
The novel proposed electrolytes will allow major advances in fuel cells. Light weight, high energy density fuel cells are needed for powering electric vehicles and for man-portable applications. Both defense and civilian applications present large potential markets.