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Comparative investigation of novel PBI blend ionomer membranes from nonfluorinated and partially fluorinated poly arylene ethers



In this study, the properties of novel acid-base blend membranes from polybenzimidazole PBI and self-prepared sulfonated nonfluorinated and partially fluorinated arylene main chain polymers from the polymer classes of aromatic polyethers, polyetherketones, polyethersulfones, and polyphosphine oxides are comparatively discussed. The aims of this study were to (1) determine the influence of the chemical structure of the polymers on their thermal and chemical stabilities and to identify polymeric structures having stabilities as high as possible, and (2) determine the effect of the addition of PBI to sulfonated arylene ionomers in terms of improving of their chemical, thermal, and dimensional stabilities. The working hypothesis of the study was that partially fluorinated arylene main-chain ionomers should have better chemical and thermal stabilities than the F-free ionomers, due to the much higher stability of C[BOND]F bonds, compared to that of C[BOND]H bonds. Improved procedures have been used for the polycondensation reactions, by applying an excess of K2CO3 deprotonation compound; the use of a dehydration agent like toluene or benzene was not required. Further, reactions could be performed at lower temperatures than is usually required for such polycondensation reactions; most of the polycondensations were made in a temperature range between 80 and 130 °C. The following properties of the polymers and blend membranes have been determined: proton conductivity, water uptake, swelling, thermal stability including thermal stability of sulfonic acid groups and of the polymer backbone, and oxidative stability by H2O2 treatment. The result of these investigations was that polymers containing fluorinated building blocks and/or phosphine oxide building blocks had the best stabilities. Selected acid-base blend membranes were made from PBI and these aromatic polymers showed proton conductivities of up to 0.1 S/cm, water uptake values of not more than 40%, and starting temperatures for SO3H group splitting-off approaching 290 °C. Moreover, PBI-sulfonated polymer blend membranes showed much less weight loss after H2O2 treatment than does the sulfonated polymers alone, indicating a radical attack-stabilizing effect of PBI. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys 44: 2311–2326, 2006