Anhydrous proton-conducting polymers usually consist of a more or less inert polymer matrix that is swollen with an appropriate proton solvent (in most cases, phosphoric acid). An outline of the different materials is provided, with a focus on PBI/HPO blends that are currently most suitable for fuel cell applications. Also discussed are alternative concepts for fully polymeric materials, which establish proton conductivity as an intrinsic property using amphoteric heterocycles such as imidazole as a proton solvent. The development of some of the first polymers is described, and the fundamental relations between their material properties and conductivity are discussed. Closely related to this relatively new concept are mechanistic investigations focusing on intermolecular proton transfer and diffusion of (protonated) solvent molecules, the contributions of both transport processes to conductivity, and the dependence of these ratios on composition, charge carrier density, etc. Although the development of fully polymeric proton conductors is inseparably related to mechanistic considerations, relatively little attention has been paid to these concepts in the field of conventional membranes (hydrated ionomers, HPO-based materials). Consequently, their general relevance is emphasized, and according investigations are summarized to provide a more comprehensive picture of proton transport processes within proton exchange membranes.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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