In this work, the properties of novel ionic polymer blends of crosslinked and sulfonated poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) and sulfonated poly(ether ether ketone) (SPEEK) are investigated. Crosslinking and sulfonation of PVA were carried out using sulfosuccinic acid (SSA) in the presence of dispersed SPEEK to obtain semi-interpenetrating network blends. PVA–SSA/SPEEK blend membranes of different compositions were studied for their ion-exchange capacity, proton conductivity, water uptake, and thermal and mechanical properties. The hydrated blend membranes show good proton conductivities in the range of 10−3 to 10−2 S/cm. When compared with pure component membranes, the PVA–SSA/SPEEK blend membranes also exhibit improvement in tensile strength, tensile modulus, and delay in the onset of thermal and chemical degradation. Semi-interpenetrating nature of the blends is established from morphology and dynamic mechanical analysis. Morphology of the membranes was studied using scanning electron microscopy after selective chemical treatment. The dynamic mechanical properties of the membranes are examined to understand the miscibility characteristics of the blends. The relative proportions of PVA and SPEEK and the degree of crosslinking of PVA–SSA are important factors in determining the optimum properties for the blend. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 2013
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