Carbon membranes from blends of PBI and polyimides for N2/CH4 and CO2/CH4 separation and hydrogen purification

Seyed Saeid Hosseini, Tai Shung Chung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations


Membranes composed of poly(benzimidazole) (PBI) and various polyimides are studied regarding to their capabilities in formation of homogenous blends with satisfactory morphology for fabrication of gas separating carbon molecular sieve membranes. Attempts are made to unravel the correlations between the pyrolysis process parameters and separation performance of developed membranes. The results show that compared to Torlon and P84, Matrimid is a better choice for preparation of blend precursors in combination with PBI. The findings also suggest that carbon membranes derived form PBI/Matrimid are congruous candidates for H2/CO2 separation. Interestingly, attractive performance for separation of other gas pairs were obtained by tuning the PBI content in membranes. Modification of precursors by chemical cross-linking prior to carbonization provides membranes with enhanced selectivity suitable for separation of hydrogen from both nitrogen and carbon dioxide. This research study accentuates the necessity and importance of adopting a proper strategy in exploiting synergistic beneficial features of advanced materials (PBI), technology (polymer blending), process (carbonization) and modification techniques (cross-linking) toward achieving membranes with desired performance. Developed membranes surpass several separation performance trade-offs with great potentials for various industrial applications including CO2/CH4 (α=203.95), H2/CO2 (α = 33.44) and particularly N2/CH4 separation with unprecedented high permeability (PN2 =2.78 Barrer) and selectivity (α = 7.99) for this gas pair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-185
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 5 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Authors would like to thank National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore National Research Foundation (NRF) for her support on the Competitive Research Programme for the project entitled “Molecular Engineering of Membrane Materials: Research and Technology for Energy Development of Hydrogen, Natural Gas and Syngas” with grant number of R-279-000-261-281. Thanks are also due to Dr. Y. Liu (IMRE), P.C. Lim (IMRE), B.T. Low (NUS) and Dr. L. Shao (NUS) for their support throughout this project. Mr. Hosseini also would like to thank Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) for awarding the scholarship.


  • Carbon membranes
  • Chemical modification
  • Gas separation
  • Molecular sieves
  • Polymer blend
  • Pyrolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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