Covalently cross-linked polymer membranes were fabricated from poly(aryl sulfone benzimidazole) (SO2PBI) and poly(vinylbenzyl chloride) (PVBCl) as electrolytes for high-temperature proton-exchange-membrane fuel cells. The cross-linking imparted organo insolubility and chemical stability against radical attack to the otherwise flexible SO2PBI membranes. Steady phosphoric acid doping of the cross-linked membranes was achieved at elevated temperatures with little swelling. The acid-doped membranes exhibited increased mechanical strength compared to both pristine SO2PBI and poly[2,2′-(m-phenylene)-5,5′-bibenzimidazole] (mPBI). The superior characteristics of the cross-linked SO2PBI membranes allowed higher acid doping levels and, therefore, higher proton conductivity. Fuel-cell tests with the cross-linked membranes demonstrated a high open circuit voltage and improved power performance and durability.
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