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Keywords:

  • amphiphilic block copolymers;
  • ionomers;
  • polycondensation;
  • polymer electrolyte fuel cell membranes;
  • sulfonations

Abstract

Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

Two multiblock copoly(arylene ether sulfone)s with similar block lengths and ion exchange capacities (IECs) were prepared by a coupling reaction between a non-sulfonated precursor block and a highly sulfonated precursor block containing either fully disulfonated diarylsulfone or fully tetrasulfonated tetraaryldisulfone segments. The latter two precursor blocks were sulfonated via lithiation-sulfination reactions whereby the sulfonic acid groups were exclusively placed in ortho positions to the many sulfone bridges, giving these blocks IECs of 4.1 and 4.6 meq·g−1, respectively. Copolymer membranes with IECs of 1.4 meq·g−1 displayed well-connected hydrophilic nanophase domains and had decomposition temperatures at, or above, 300 °C under air. The copolymer with the tetrasulfonated tetraaryldisulfone segments showed a proton conductivity of 0.13 S·cm−1 at 80 °C under fully humidified conditions, and surpassed that of a perfluorosulfonic acid membrane (NRE212) by a factor of 5 at –20 °C over time.