Polymeric membranes for the hydrogen economy: Contemporary approaches and prospects for the future

Lu Shao*, Bee Ting Low, Tai Shung Chung, Alan R. Greenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

322 Scopus citations


Driven by the concerns over the dwindling supplies of petroleum and the dire consequences of global warming, the emergence of a hydrogen economy appears inevitable. Such development will require the advancement of separation technologies with significantly improved energy and cost efficiencies. Membrane technology is the ideal choice for hydrogen purification due to its lower power usage and costs, simplicity in operation, as well as compactness and portability. Assuming hydrogen purity requirements of <99.5% and relatively modest operating temperatures, polymeric membranes are preferred among the various alternatives. Generally, polymeric membranes for hydrogen enrichment are either H2- or CO2-selective, depending on the governing kinetic or thermodynamic factors. In this review, the current state-of-the-art for polymeric membranes applicable to hydrogen purification is considered, and the different approaches for enhancing intrinsic gas-separation performance are evaluated. An assessment of the benefits and shortcomings of the respective membrane types are presented, and the future directions most promising for the development of robust and high-performance polymeric membranes for the hydrogen economy are highlighted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-31
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 5 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • CO-selective membranes
  • H-selective membranes
  • Hydrogen economy
  • Hydrogen purification
  • Polymeric membranes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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