Characterization and performance study of phase inversed Sulfonated Poly Ether Ether Ketone – Silico tungstic composite membrane as an electrolyte for microbial fuel cell applications


STA was immobilized on SPEEK membrane by phase inversion method.

STA-SPEEK composite membranes showed high proton conductivity.

STA-SPEEK composite membranes showed better power generation than Nafion and SPEEK.

STA composite membranes showed an order lesser DO crossover than Nafion.

Addition of STA particle restricts the transport of cation other than proton.


Hybrid composite membranes possess the desired properties than that of the pristine polymeric membranes for fuel cell applications. Phase inversion method was used to entrap silicotungstic acid (STA) particles in Sulfonated Poly Ether Ether Ketone (SPEEK) membranes as a source of protons having a high protonic conductivity at room temperature (0.02–0.1 S/cm). The physico-chemical properties of the hybrid membranes were characterized by SEM-EDX, line scanning, 3D non-contact profilometer, FTIR and XRD techniques. These membranes showed better ion exchange, proton conductivity values and were tested in single chamber microbial fuel cell (SCMFC). In addition, these membranes show decreased oxygen crossover and transport of cations other than protons. Among the various weight percentage (2.5%, 5%, 7.5% and 10%) of STA prepared composite membranes, 7.5% STA + SPEEK showed the highest power density of 207 mWm−2 compared to that of commercial Nafion 117 (47 mWm−2) in the same setup of SCMFC. Overall, the composite membranes proved to be excellent candidates as electrolytes for Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) applications.

Graphical abstract


  • SPEEK;
  • Silicotungstic acid;
  • Entrapment;
  • Cation transport;
  • Oxygen crossover;
  • MFC

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