Research Project: Stability of Fuel Cell Membrane Material sPEEK Prerequisite: introductory chemistry Description: Fuel Cells will play a role in the ongoing development of alternative energy sources and have been proposed as a pollution-free replacement for gasoline engines in commercial automobiles. Polymer Electrolyte Membranes (PEMs) are critical to the function of fuel cells. It is important to understand if proposed membrane materials will degrade in the operating environment of a fuel cell. This work will investigate the chemical stability of a proposed membrane material, sulfonated polyether ketone, or sulfonated PEEK (sPEEK). Our work will investigate the rate at which sPEEK may degrade in a fuel cell. The material may be degraded by reaction with OH and H radicals (molecules with one unpaired electron.) The means of the investigation will be molecular orbital theory computer calculations. This proposal may employ one or possibly two BUILD students in summer research.