The aim of this study is to develop an environmentally and friendly poly(vinyl alcohol) based low cost membrane with improved ionic conductivity, thermal and mechanical stability. In this work, the effect of colloidal silica content on membrane properties was investigated. Sulfosuccinic acid (SSA) was used as the sulfonating agent. In order to enhance the mechanical and ionic conduction properties, colloidal silica was used. The range of silica content in the membrane solution investigated was 5-20%. For the characterizations, the synthesized membranes were subjected to FT-IR, TGA, tensile strength analysis, water uptake, ion exchange capacity (IEC) and impedance measurements for proton conductivity. Synthesized membranes demonstrated high water uptake (up to 80%) without swelling, high ion exchange capacities was found to increase with increasing SSA content. The proton conductivity of CS doped membranes increased with increase in temperature and the temperature dependence showed significant change in the CS doped membranes. An increase in the values of the proton conductivity was driven by the mobility of free charges (free ions) as the temperature was increased. Addition of SSA and CS to the polymer matrix improved the thermal stability of the membranes. It was also discovered that membranes were in a composite structure and colloidal silica particles did not contribute to the structure of the polymer matrix at the molecular level. Mechanical durability of the membranes having SSA content above 15% decreased and these membranes showed a more fragile structure. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.