|dc.description.abstract||Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFCs) are widely regarded as the next generation of portable power production devices, with uses ranging from powering automotive vehicles to laptops and smartphones. PEMFCs convert oxygen and hydrogen into water and usable electricity and have no moving parts, meaning that they can reach overall efficiencies of 60%. However current Polymer Electrolyte Membranes only work efficiently below 80 C and at high humidity. At this low temperature, CO poisoning of the Pt electrocatalysts means that only high-grade fuel (low CO concentration ≤ 2 ppm) and high catalyst loading are required. This means that the overall cost of a PEMFC is prohibitively expensive. To dramatically the reduce cost and increase the efficiency of a PEMFC, new membranes are required which work at 120 C, at which point CO poisoning is no longer a dominating issue.
In this thesis, the synthesis of novel organic/inorganic hybrid polyurethane Polymer Electrolyte Membranes (PEMs) with covalently bound phosphonic acid moieties (PA) made from cheap source materials have been reported, which, for the first time, demonstrate high conductivities at high temperatures, for example a PEM made from triethoxysilylpropyl isocyanate, polyethylene glycol, 4,4’-methylene diphenyl diisocyanate and PA displayed a conductivity of 3 10-2 S cm-1 at 120 C and 100% RH. The membranes also display good mechanical, thermal and chemical stability making them ideal candidate PEMs for the use in PEMFCs. However further work needs to be done to reduce the thickness of the membranes from their current thickness of 200 m to just 20-30 m, which would dramatically increase their efficiency when used in a PEMFC, by reducing the Area Specific Resistance and increasing the output (usable) power.||en_US