Effects of thermally labile saccharide units on the gas separation performance of highly permeable polyimide membranes

Mei Ling Chua, You Chang Xiao, Tai Shung Chung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Thermal annealing polymeric membranes consisting of thermally saccharide labile units have been proven to be a feasible approach to produce highly permeable gas separation membranes. In this work, thermal labile units with different molecular weights and structures, glucose (180g/mol), sucrose (342g/mol) and raffinose (504g/mol), are chosen to be grafted onto the side chains of a polyimide and the membranes are annealed to investigate the effects of thermally labile units on its properties. The gas separation performance of the membranes for various gases such as O 2, N 2, CO 2, CH 4, C 2H 6, C 3H 6 and C 3H 8 are examined. It is observed that when the grafted and annealed membranes are annealed from 200 to 400°C, a substantial increase in gas permeability is achieved with moderate gas-pair selectivity. It could be attributed to the formation of microvoids upon the degradation of the thermally labile unit. Depending on the thermally labile unit grafted, a four to eight-fold increase in gas permeability was seen. The variation of the gas separation performance with the thermally labile unit is elucidated by the thermal decomposition behavior of the thermally labile units and the interaction with the polymer matrix. The membrane resistance to CO 2 plasticization is also investigated. The annealed membranes show good flexibility with enhanced gas permeability and CO 2 plasticization resistance. The membranes exhibit excellent CO 2/C 2H 6 and C 3H 6/C 3H 8 separation performance. The selectivity for CO 2/C 2H 6 is over 34. The separation performance for O 2/N 2, CO 2/N 2 and CO 2/CH 4 gas pairs fall slightly below the upper bound. The CO 2 permeability of the membrane grafted with glucose declines slightly from 1389Barrers to 1339Barrers while maintaining the same CO 2/CH 4 selectivity of about 26.6 when subjected to a binary gas mixture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-382
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Gas separation
  • Polyimide
  • Thermally labile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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