A seeded growth method for the fabrication of high-permeance, high-separation-factor zeolite (siliceous ZSM-5, [Si96O192]-MFI) membranes is reported. The method consists of growing the crystals of an oriented seed layer to a well-intergrown film by avoiding events that lead to a loss of preferred orientation, such as twin overgrowths and random nucleation. Organic polycations are used as zeolite crystal shape modifiers to enhance relative growth rates along the desirable out-of-plane direction. The polycrystalline films are thin (∼1 micrometer) with single grains extending along the film thickness and with large in-plane grain size (∼1 micrometer). The preferred orientation is such that straight channels with an open diameter of ∼5.5 angstroms run down the membrane thickness. Comparison with previously reported membranes shows that these microstructurally optimized films have superior performance for the separation of organic mixtures with components that have small differences in size and shape, such as xylene isomers.
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