The proton conductivity of a series of extruded Nafion membranes @of equivalent weight ~EW! of 1100 and nominal dry thickness of 51, 89, 127, and 178 mm# has been studied. Measurements were made in 1 M H2SO4 at 298 K using a four-electrode, dc technique. The membrane area resistance increases with thickness, as expected, from 0.07 to 0.16 V cm2 for Nafion 112 and Nafion 117, respectively. However, in contrast to the published literature, after correcting for the membrane thickness, the conductivity of the membranes decreases with decreasing membrane thickness. For example, values of 0.083 and 0.16 S cm21 were obtained for Nafion 112 and 117 membranes, respectively. In situ current-interrupt measurements in a proton exchange membrane fuel cell confirmed the relatively poor conductivity of the membrane electrode assemblies ~MEAs! based on the thinner membranes. While a high contact resistance to the electrodes may have contributed to the in situ MEA resistance, water balance measurements over the MEA showed that the high resistance was not due to a low water content or to an uneven water distribution in the MEAs. The implications of the findings for the understanding of the membrane properties are discussed
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