H1 and P31 NMR study of phosphoric acid-doped polybenzimidazole under controlled water activity

Alex Schechter, Robert F. Savinell, J. S. Wainright, Dale Ray

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34 Scopus citations


Polybenzimidazole (PBI) membranes doped with excess of phosphoric acid (PA) were studied by H1 and P31 liquid probe NMR methods, under carefully controlled humidity. The results indicate that mobile (or "free") acid reside between the polymers chains and its properties are reflected from the H1 NMR spectrum in which it appears as a broad single peak. The signal is strongly affected by the water adsorbed under different water activity. Upon drying, the membrane produces pyro-phosphoric acid (H4 P2 O7), which also appears as a broad characteristic peak in P31 NMR spectrum at δ≈-12 pmm (vs reference of 85 wt % H3 P O4). The similarities between the free acid and liquid solutions of PA enabled us to calculate the actual concentration of the mobile PA in the polymer using two methods. The first compares the observed chemical shift of protons in PBI H3 P O4 membranes to those of PA liquid solutions. In the second method, the concentration of the acid was evaluated from the ratio of ortho to pyro-phosphoric acid signals in the P31 -NMR spectrum. The validity and limitations of each method are discussed, as well as insight into PA species distribution in the mobile phase and in polymer bonded stats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)B283-B290
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


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