Formation of ultrathin high-performance polyethersulfone hollow-fiber membranes

Tai Shung Chung*, Soo Khean Teoh, Xudong Hu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

222 Scopus citations


We have demonstrated, for the first time, that ultrathin skin-layer hollow-fiber membranes with a skin layer of 474 Å can be prepared using mainly a one-polymer and one-solvent system. This is one of the thinnest skin-layer asymmetric hollow-fiber membranes that have ever been reported in the literature for air and gas separation. This work implies that, in order to yield a high-permeance polyethersulfone (PES) membrane with a skin layer of approximatey 500 Å, the addition of non-solvents into spinning dopes may not be the pre-condition to form ultrathin skin-layer hollow-fiber membranes for gas separation. The keys to fabricate ultrathin skin-layer hollow-fiber membranes are (1) to control the chemistry of the internal coagulant and the bore-fluid flow rate and (2) to have a dope exhibiting significant chain entanglement. The newly developed polyethersulfone (PES) hollow fibers have an O2/N2 selectivity of 5.80 with a permeance of 9.3 x 10-6 cc(STP)/cm2 s cmHg for O2 at room temperature. The skin layer thickness was calculated to be 474 Å. These hollow fibers were wet-spun from a 35/75 (weight ratio) PES/N-methyl-pyrrolidone (NMP) dope using water as the external coagulant and 80/20 NMP/H2O as the bore fluid. The hollow fiber must be coated with a silicone elastomer. This work also suggests that in order to yield a high-permeance PES membrane with a skin layer of approximately 500 Å, there might not exist a critical solvent molar volume when preparing the dope solvent mixture, as previously suggested by the Permea research group. SEM observation of skin nodules suggests that the skin layer thickness is less than 700 Å.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-175
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Air-separation membranes
  • Asymmetric membranes
  • Hollow fiber spinning
  • Polyethersulfone membranes
  • Ultrathin skin layer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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