Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells and electrolyzers are key technologies for NASA space systems utilizing hydrogen, oxygen, or water as reactants. In order to improve the life and reliability of the electrochemical stacks within these systems, as well as to reduce overall system mass/volume and cost, development of membrane-electrode-assemblies (MEAs) that are stable and highly efficient is critical. Currently, the state-of-the-art membranes used in fuel cell systems are perfluorocarbon sulfonate based materials such as NafionREG
which show excellent stability and conductivity under hydrated condition at low temperature (T ≤ 80˚C). However, higher operating temperatures (T > 130˚C) would provide several advantages for fuel cell operation. Advantages include higher operating currents, improved CO tolerance, simpler and more efficient heat management, simpler water management and potential use of non-platinum catalysts. In this program, EIC Laboratories will develop novel PEM membranes that are insensitive to hydration for use at elevated temperatures and which can be synthesized inexpensively in bulk.