Mechanical properties and microstructure changes of proton exchange membrane under immersed conditions



In this study, mechanical tensile stress–strain response and microstructure changes of proton exchange membranes (PEM) in immersed conditions are studied. The effects of water pretreatment and immersion time on stress–strain responses of Nafion®−212 membranes are discussed. It is found that in the water immersion it took 24 h for the membrane to reach saturation equilibrium. Compared with dry membrane, immersed Nafion membrane shows a lower stress level at 30°C, but a higher stress level at 70°C. In situ small angle neutron scattering (SANS) experiments show that with the increase of temperature and water uptake, domains of the membrane become ordered and stay stable at around 60°C. Based on the observation, the relationship between the microstructure and mechanical properties is explained. POLYM. ENG. SCI. 54:2215–2221, 2014. © 2013 Society of Plastics Engineers