Polymer Membrane Separators for the Next-Generation of Energy-Water Systems

Technology Summary

Polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) have been identified as an attractive electrical power source because they have high efficiency levels and are an environmental friendly energy source.  In comparison with other types of fuel cells, PEFCs have a high power density, low weight to power ratio, and utilize a proton exchange membrane (PEM) as its electrolyte. Some types of membranes that are in use have displayed issues such as reduced conductivity and dehydration at high temperatures. 


Sandia National Laboratories has created an improved composition for producing proton exchange membranes for use in fuel cells, electrode casting solutions, and in sulfur dioxide electrolyzers. This invention features an innovative crosslinked sulfonated poly(phenylene) copolymer composition. The crosslinked feature will eliminate issues associated with current state-of-the-art membranes and result in membranes that are more robust, have high temperature capabilities, and have lower SO2 crossover rates. 


  • Crosslinking allow for the density of the ionic functional groups to be increased, which means tougher membranes with higher IECs
  • Design prevents membranes from changing at higher temperatures
  • New material has enhanced water management
  • Membranes have high conductivity and efficiency

Applications and Industries

  • Chemical Applications
  • Transportation and Automotive
  • Fuel Cells
  • Dialysis Equipment
  • Ultrafiltration

Additional Information

SD#13741; Poly(phenylene)-based anion exchange polymers and methods thereof (Patent Application Filed)
SD#12549; Poly(phenylene)-based Ionomers (Patent Application 14/694,875)
SD#13592; Functionalization of Diels-Alder Polyphenylene Polymers (Patent Application Filed)
SD#12691; High Performance, Durable Polymers Including Poly(phenylene) (Patent Application 14/933,981)

Intellectual Property

ID Number
Patent Number
Epoxy-crosslinked sulfonated poly (phenylene) copolymer proton exchange membranes 11210.0 7,816,482 10/19/2010
Poly(phenylene)-based anion exchange membrane 10987.0 7,888,397 02/15/2011
Functionalization of poly(phenylene) by the attachment of sidechains 8,809,483 08/19/2014
Multi-block sulfonated poly(phenylene) copolymer proton exchange membranes 8,110,636 02/07/2012
Technology IDSD#Development StagePrototype - Sandia estimates this technology at approximately TRL 6. Deliverable prototype testing has been conducted. AvailabilityAvailable - Various license and partnering options are available. Please contact the Intellectual Property department to discuss. Published10/04/2011Last Updated01/23/2013