High performance and commercially attractive mixed-matrix membranes were developed for H2/CO2 separation via a scalable hollow fiber spinning process. Thin (~300 nm) and defect-free selective layers were successfully created with a uniform distribution of the nanosized (~60 nm) zeolitic-imidazole framework (ZIF-8) filler within the polymer (polybenzimidazole, PBI) matrix. These membranes were able to operate at high temperature (150 °C) and pressure (up to 30 bar) process conditions required in treatment of pre-combustion and syngas process gas streams. Compared with neat PBI hollow fibers, filler incorporation into the polymer matrix leads to a strong increase in H2 permeance from 65 GPU to 107 GPU at 150 °C and 7 bar, while the ideal H2/CO2 selectivity remained constant at 18. For mixed gas permeation, there is competition between H2 and CO2 transport inside ZIF-8 structure. Adsorption of CO2 in the nanocavities of the filler suppresses the transport of the faster permeating H2 and consequently decreases the H2 permeance with total feed pressure down to values equal to the pure PBI hollow fibers for the end pressure of 30 bar. Therefore, the improvement of fiber performance for gas separation with filler addition is compromised at high operating feed pressures, which emphasizes the importance of membrane evaluation under relevant process conditions.
KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge the financial support of the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013), under grant agreement no. 608490, M4CO2 project. The Laboratorio de Microscopías Avanzadas (LMA) at INA, University of Zaragoza is also acknowledged.