Highly selective sulfonated polyethersulfone (SPES)-based membranes with transition metal counterions for hydrogen recovery and natural gas separation

Yi Li, Tai Shung Chung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Two types of SPES polymers with different degrees of sulfonation (DS) were synthesized by adjusting the used amount of chlorosulfonic acid and confirmed via elemental analysis and XPS in this work. TGA degradation curves show a difference in the thermal stability between the PES and SPES polymers due to the graft of sulfonic groups. The SPES-H membranes with different DS values were fabricated using a solution-casting method and their gas separation results exhibit a decrease in the permeability and an increase in the selectivity with increasing the degree of sulfonation because of the effect of electrostatic crosslinking. Novel transition metal counterions (i.e. Ag+ and Zn2+) were applied to conduct the ion-exchange treatment of SPES-H polymer samples to change the affinity properties of some specific penetrants in the membrane. EDX data confirm the nearly complete replacement of the proton in the SPES-H sample by metal counterions. The SPES membrane containing Zn2+ exhibits the best gas separation performance in this study due to a combination of the strong electrostatic crosslinking and the affinity between Zn2+ and some specific gas molecules (e.g. O2 and CO2). Compared to flat dense PES membranes, the SPES membrane containing Zn2+ exhibits impressive permselectivity increments of approximately 140%, 86%, 18% and 57% for He/N2, H2/N2, O2/N2 and CO2/CH4 gas pairs, respectively. Both CO2-induced plasticization tests and CO2/CH4 mixed gas measurements have been carried out to examine the applicability of these newly developed SPES membranes with different ion forms in industry. Results prove that this type of membrane material is a promising candidate for hydrogen recovery and natural gas separation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-135
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Electrostatic crosslinking
  • Hydrogen recovery
  • Natural gas separation
  • Sulfonated polyethersulfone (SPES)
  • Transition metal counterions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Highly selective sulfonated polyethersulfone (SPES)-based membranes with transition metal counterions for hydrogen recovery and natural gas separation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this