A flexible all-inorganic fuel cell membrane with conductivity above Nafion, and durable operation at 150 °c

Y. Ansari, T. G. Tucker, W. Huang, I. S. Klein, S. Y. Lee, Jeffery Yarger, Charles Angell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


The search for fuel cell membranes has focused on carbon backbone polymers, among which Nafion seems to best survive the most severe of the degradation mechanisms - attack by peroxide radicals. Less attention has been given to inorganic membranes because of their generally inflexible nature and lower conductivity, though some SiO2-Nafion composites have shown improved properties. Nafion dominates, despite needing hydration, which then restricts operation to below 100 °C (so CO poisoning problems persist). Described herein is a low cost, flexible, and all-inorganic fiberglass reinforced gel membrane with conductivity exceeding that of Nafion at any temperature above 60 °C. Using Teflon fuel cells, maximum currents > 1 Acm-2 and OCV of 1.03 V at 150 °C are demonstrated. No detectable loss of cell potential was observed over 24 h during 50 mAcm-2 constant current operation at 120 °C while, at 150 °C and maximum power, the degradation rate is intermediate among other high conductivity H3PO4-PBI type membranes. The structure of the membrane is deduced, mainly from 29Si solid state-NMR. The -115 ppm resonance, which is extreme for Q4 Si(O) structures, identifies a zeolite-like SiO2 network, which is "floppy". 31P and 1H NMR establish nano-permeating H3PO4 as the source of the exceptional conductivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-149
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Power Sources
StatePublished - Jan 30 2016


  • 150 °C fuel cell
  • Conductivity above Nafion
  • Inorganic fuel cell membrane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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