Advanced nanocomposite membranes for fuel cell applications: a comprehensive review

Document Type: Review Paper


1 Membrane Research Laboratory, Lorestan University, Khorramabad, P.O. Box 68137-17133, Iran.

2 Membrane Separation Technology (MST) Group, Biofuel Research Team (BRTeam), Karaj, Iran.


Combination of inorganic fillers into organic polymer membranes (organic–inorganic hybrid membranes) has drawn a significant deal of attention over the last few decades. This is because of the incorporated influence of the organic and inorganic phases towards proton conductivity and membrane stability, in addition to cost decline, improved water retention property, and also suppressing fuel crossover by increasing the transport pathway tortuousness. The preparation methods of the composite membranes and the intrinsic characteristics of the used particles as filler, such as size, type, surface acidity, shape, and their interactions with the polymer matrix can significantly affect the properties of the resultant matrix. The membranes currently used in proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) are perfluorinated polymers containing sulfonic acid, such as Nafion®. Although these membranes possess superior properties, such as high proton conductivity and acceptable chemical, mechanical, and thermal stability, they suffer from several disadvantages such as water management, CO poisoning, and fuel crossover. Organic-inorganic nanocomposite PEMs offer excellent potentials for overcoming these shortcomings in order to achieve improved FC performance. Various inorganic fillers for the fabrication of composite membranes have been comprehensively reviewed in the present article. Moreover, the properties of polymer composites containing different nanoparticles have been thoroughly discussed.

Graphical Abstract

Advanced nanocomposite membranes for fuel cell applications: a comprehensive review


  • Nanocomposite proton exchange membranes based on different fillers have been comprehensively discussed.
  • Analytical methods used for proton exchange membranes properties have been reviewed.
  • Properties of polymer composites based on a variety of nanoparticles have been scrutinized.