The effects of polymer chain rigidification, zeolite pore size and pore blockage on polyethersulfone (PES)-zeolite A mixed matrix membranes

Yi Li, Tai-Shung Chung*, Chun Cao, Santi Kulprathipanja

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

268 Scopus citations

Abstract

The polyethersulfone (PES)-zeolite 3A, 4A and 5A mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) were fabricated with a modified solution-casting procedure at high temperatures close to the glass transition temperatures (Tg) of polymer materials. The effects of membrane preparation methodology, zeolite loading and pore size of zeolite on the gas separation performance of these mixed matrix membranes were studied. SEM results show the interface between polymer and zeolite in MMMs experiencing natural cooling is better (i.e., less defective) than that in MMMs experiencing immediate quenching. The increment of glass transition temperature (Tg) of MMMs with zeolite loading confirms the polymer chain rigidification induced by zeolite. The experimental results indicate that a higher zeolite loading results in a decrease in gas permeability and an increase in gas pair selectivity. The unmodified Maxwell model fails to correctly predict the permeability decrease induced by polymer chain rigidification near the zeolite surface and the partial pore blockage of zeolites by the polymer chains. A new modified Maxwell model is therefore proposed. It takes the combined effects of chain rigidification and partial pore blockage of zeolites into calculation. The new model shows much consistent permeability and selectivity predication with experimental data. Surprisingly, an increase in zeolite pore size from 3 to 5 Å generally not only increase gas permeability, but also gas pair selectivity. The O2/N 2 selectivity of PES-zeolite 3A and PES-zeolite 4A membranes is very similar, while the O2/N2 selectivity of PES-zeolite 5A membranes is much higher. This implies the blockage may narrow a part of zeolite 5A pores to approximately 4 Å, which can discriminate the gas pair of O2 and N2, and narrow a part of zeolites 3A and 4A pores to smaller sizes. It is concluded that the partial pore blockage of zeolites by the polymer chains has equivalent or more influence on the separation properties of mixed matrix membranes compared with that of the polymer chain rigidification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Volume260
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2005

Keywords

  • Gas separation performance
  • Maxwell model
  • Mixed matrix membrane
  • Partial pore blockage
  • Polymer chain rigidification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Filtration and Separation
  • Polymers and Plastics

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