Mixed Matrix Membranes with Surface Functionalized Metal–Organic Framework Sieves for Efficient Propylene/Propane Separation

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2 Scopus citations


Membrane technology, regarded as an environmentally friendly and sustainable approach, offers great potential to address the large energy penalty associated with the energy-intensive propylene/propane separation. Quest for molecular sieving membranes for this important separation is of tremendous interest. Here, a fluorinated metal–organic framework (MOF) material, known as KAUST-7 (KAUST: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology) with well-defined narrow 1D channels that can effectively discriminate propylene from propane based on a size-sieving mechanism, is successfully incorporated into a polyimide matrix to fabricate molecular sieving mixed matrix membranes (MMMs). Markedly, the surface functionalization of KAUST-7 nanoparticles with carbene moieties affords the requisite interfacial compatibility, with minimal nonselective defects at polymer–filler interfaces, for the fabrication of a molecular sieving MMM. The optimal membrane with a high MOF loading (up to 45 wt.%) displays a propylene permeability of ≈95 barrer and a mixed propylene/propane selectivity of ≈20, far exceeding the state-of-the-art upper bound limits. Moreover, the resultant membrane exhibits robust structural stability under practical conditions, including high pressures (up to 8 bar) and temperatures (up to 100 °C). The observed outstanding performance attests to the importance of surface engineering for the preparation and plausible deployment of high-performance MMMs for industrial applications.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvanced Materials
StatePublished - Apr 12 2023

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-05-10
Acknowledgements: The authors thank King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) for financial support.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering


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