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Chem Soc Rev. 2010 Aug;39(8):3210-39. doi: 10.1039/b922650h. Epub 2010 Jun 24.

Proton-conducting membranes based on benzimidazole polymers for high-temperature PEM fuel cells. A chemical quest.

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  • 1Centro de Investigación en Nanociencia y Nanotecnología, CIN2 (CSIC-ICN), Campus UAB, E-08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain.


The development of high-temperature PEM fuel cells (working at 150-200 degrees C) is pursued worldwide in order to solve some of the problems of current cells based on Nafion (CO tolerance, improved kinetics, water management, etc.). Polybenzimidazole membranes nanoimpregnated with phosphoric acid have been studied as electrolytes in PEMFCs for more than a decade. Commercially available polybenzimidazole (PBI) has been the most extensively studied and used for this application in membranes doped with all sorts of strong inorganic acids. In addition to this well-known polymer we also review here studies on ABPBI and other polybenzimidazole type membranes. More recently, several copolymers and related derivatives have attracted many researchers' attention, adding variety to the field. Furthermore, besides phosphoric acid, many other strong inorganic acids, as well as alkaline electrolytes have been used to impregnate benzimidazole membranes and are analyzed here. Finally, we also review different hybrid materials based on polybenzimidazoles and several inorganic proton conductors such as heteropoly acids, as well as sulfonated derivatives of the polymers, all of which contribute to a quickly-developing field with many blooming results and useful potential which are the subject of this critical review (317 references).

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