Ionomer nanocomposite membranes based on sulfonated poly (ether ether ketone) were prepared using nanofillers of different shapes such as layered laponite, cylindrical MCM-41, and spherical aerosil, and were characterized for direct methanol fuel cells. Prior to the preparation of the nanocomposite membranes, the nanofillers were modified using imidazole glycidoxypropyl triethoxysilane (IGPTES). The effect of surface modification of the inorganic nanofillers on the methanol permeability and proton conductivity is studied and discussed in this report. We found that nanocomposite membranes containing functionalized nanofillers displayed lower methanol permeabilities compared to the non-functionalized fillers at the same time retaining the proton conductivity. The effect of surface modification was more pronounced for aerosil membranes, which showed a drastic decrease in permeability and an increase in proton conductivity. However, membrane with modified MCM-41 is the suitable and promising candidate for direct methanol fuel cells as it displayed the best permeability and conductivity values. copyright The Electrochemical Society.
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