Title: SnO2-Nafion® nanocomposite polymer electrolytes for fuel cell applications

Authors: S. Brutti; R. Scipioni; M.A. Navarra; S. Panero; V. Allodi; M. Giarola; G. Mariotto

Addresses: Dipartimento di Scienze, Università della Basilicata, V.le Ateneo Lucano 10, 85100 Potenza, Italy; Istituto dei Sistemi Complessi (UOS Sapienza), Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Via dei Taurini, 00185 Roma, Italy ' Dipartimento di Chimica, Sapienza Università di Roma, P.le Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Roma, Italy ' Dipartimento di Chimica, Sapienza Università di Roma, P.le Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Roma, Italy ' Dipartimento di Chimica, Sapienza Università di Roma, P.le Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Roma, Italy ' Dipartimento di Informatica, Università di Verona, strada le Grazie 15, 37134 Verona, Italy ' Dipartimento di Informatica, Università di Verona, strada le Grazie 15, 37134 Verona, Italy ' Dipartimento di Informatica, Università di Verona, strada le Grazie 15, 37134 Verona, Italy

Abstract: Fuel cells are capable to exploit the combustion of hydrogen to convert chemical energy into electricity. Polymer electrolyte fuel cells based on Nafion membranes are able to work in a relatively low temperature range (70-90°C) but require operating relative humidity (RH) close to 100%. To develop proton-exchange membranes with adequate performances at low RH, an attractive strategy consists of the incorporation of inorganic fillers into the host Nafion polymer. Here, we report on the incorporation of SnO2 nanopowders with high acidic properties as fillers in Nafion-based polymer electrolytes. Nanometre-sized sulphated SnO2 particles have been synthesised and incorporated in Nafion polymer membranes. Morphological and vibrational properties of the oxides and membranes, as well as their electrochemical behaviour, have been investigated by atomic force microscopy (AFM), micro-Raman and infra-red (IR) spectroscopies and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). The nanocomposite electrolytes have been used to form a membrane-electrodes assembly with commercial Pt-based catalysts and tested in hydrogen fuel cells.

Keywords: SnO2 nanopowders; tin dioxide; surface functionalisation; oxides; Nafion composite membranes; structural characterisation; vibrational characterisation; morphological characterisation; conductivity; fuel cell test; nanocomposites; nanotechnology; polymer electrolytes; fuel cells; nanoparticles.

DOI: 10.1504/IJNT.2014.063796

International Journal of Nanotechnology, 2014 Vol.11 No.9/10/11, pp.882 - 896

Published online: 20 Jul 2014 *

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