Solid polymer electrolyte composite membranes for olefin/paraffin separation

Ingo Pinnau*, Lora G. Toy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations


Ethylene and propylene are produced in larger quantities than any other organic compound. Production of these olefins requires separation of the olefins from the corresponding paraffins. Distillation is currently used but this is an extremely energy-intensive process due to the very low relative volatility of the components. Previous studies have shown that facilitated transport membranes can have high selectivity for olefin/paraffin separation. However, four problems have limited the commercial application of facilitated transport membranes: (i) poor mechanical stability, (ii) the difficulty in preparing thin, high-flux composite membranes, (iii) the requirement of a water-vapor-saturated feed to provide mobility for the olefin-selective carrier, and (iv) poor chemical stability due to carrier poisoning. Solid polymer electrolytes are a novel class of facilitated transport membranes for olefin/paraffin separation. These membranes solve the first three problems listed above. Solid polymer electrolyte membranes are based on rubbery, polyether-based polymers containing a dissolved olefin-complexing metal salt. Solid polymer electrolyte composite membranes made from poly(ethylene oxide) loaded with silver tetrafluoroborate showed an ethylene/ethane selectivity of up to 240 and an ethylene permeance of 8×10-6cm3(STP)/cm2scmHg with a dry feed gas mixture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 15 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Composite membranes
  • Facilitated transport
  • Gas separations
  • Poly(ethylene oxide)
  • Solid polymer electrolytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Solid polymer electrolyte composite membranes for olefin/paraffin separation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this