• functionalization of polymers;
  • ionomers;
  • membranes


A proton-exchange membrane for a direct methanol fuel cell was prepared by modifying the chemical structure of poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) via a sulfonation. The sulfonation was carried out by using sulfophthalic acid (sPTA) as a sulfonating agent. The sulfonated PVA membranes, with a variety of degrees of substitutions, were obtained by varying the crosslinking time and the amount of sulfonating agents. The chemical structure and thermal stability of the sulfonated PVA were characterized by using FTIR and thermogravimetric analysis techniques, respectively. The ion-exchange capacity (IEC) and water uptake of the sulfonated membranes was evaluated by titration and gravimetry techniques, respectively. It was found that the IEC of the membrane increased with the amount of sPTA. Water uptakes of the membranes could either decrease or remain unchanged with the crosslinking time, depending on the amount of the sulfonating agent used. Methanol permeability values of the membranes treated with 10% sPTA were relatively low, comparing with that of the Nafion 115 membrane. Proton conductivity values of the sulfonated PVA membranes ranged between 0.024 and 0.035 S/cm and they did not remarkably change with the crosslinking time. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 101: 1931–1936, 2006