An electrolyte membrane for a reformer-less fuel cell is provided. The electrolyte membrane is assembled with fuel and air manifolds to form the fuel cell. The fuel manifold receives an oxidizable fuel from a fuel supply in a gaseous, liquid, or slurry form. The air manifold receives air from an air supply. The electrolyte membrane conducts oxygen in an ionic superoxide form when the fuel cell is exposed to operating temperatures above the boiling point of water to electrochemically combine the oxygen with the fuel to produce electricity. The electrolyte membrane includes a porous electrically non-conductive substrate, an anode catalyst layer deposited along a fuel manifold side of the substrate, a cathode catalyst layer deposited along an air manifold side of the substrate, and an ionic liquid filling the substrate between the anode and cathode catalyst layers. Methods for manufacturing and operating the electrolyte membrane are also provided.
 This invention was made with government support under Contract Number P017.2012.40 HSL-IPI-DCFuelCells awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE). The government has certain rights in this invention.