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Influence of adjusted hydrophilic-hydrophobic lengths in sulfonated multiblock copoly(ether sulfone) membranes for fuel cell application Part A Polymer chemistry

Nakabayashi, Kazuhiro, Matsumoto, Kazuya, Higashihara, Tomoya, Ueda, Mitsuru
Journal of polymer science 2008 v.46 no.22 pp. 7332-7341
atomic force microscopy, composite polymers, fuel cells, hydrophilicity, hydrophobicity, molecular weight, oxidative stability, relative humidity, water uptake
Sulfonated multiblock copoly(ether sulfone)s applicable to proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) were synthesized by the coupling reaction of the hydroxyl-terminated hydrophilic and hydrophobic oligomers with different lengths in the presence of highly reactive decafluorobiphenyl (DFB) as a chain extender to investigate the influence of each length on the membranes' properties, such as water uptake, proton conductivity, and morphology. Multiblock copolymers with high molecular weights (Mn > 50,000, Mw > 150,000) were obtained under mild reaction conditions. The resulting membranes demonstrated good oxidative stability for hot Fenton's reagent and maintained high water uptake (7.3-18.7 wt %) under a low relative humidity (50% RH). Proton conductivity of all membranes at 80 °C and 95% RH was higher than that of Nafion 117 membrane, and good proton conductivity of 7.0 x 10⁻³ S/cm was obtained at 80 °C and 50% RH by optimizing the oligomer lengths. The surface morphology of the membranes was investigated by tapping mode atomic force microscopy (AFM), which showed that the multiblock copolymer membranes had a clearer surface hydrophilic/hydrophobic-separated structure than that of the random copolymer, and contributed to good and effective proton conduction.