Tuning PIM-PI-Based Membranes for Highly Selective Transport of Propylene/Propane

  • Ramy J. Swaidan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


To date there exists a great deal of energetic and economic inefficiency in the separation of olefins from paraffins because the principal means of achieving industrial purity requirements is accomplished with very energy intensive cryogenic distillation. Mitigation of the severe energy intensity of the propylene/propane separation has been identified as one of seven chemical separations which can change the landscape of global energy use, and membranes have been targeted as an emerging technology because they offer scalability and lower capital and operating costs. The focus of this work was to evaluate a new direction of material development for the very industrially relevant propylene/propane separation using membranes. The objective was to develop a rational design approach for generating highly selective membranes using a relatively new platform of materials known as polyimides of intrinsic microporosity (PIM-PIs), the prospects of which have never been examined for the propylene/propane separation. Structurally, PIMs comprise relatively inflexible macromolecular architectures integrating contortion sites that help disrupt packing and trap microporous free volume elements (< 20 Å). To date most of the work reported in the literature on this separation is based on conventional low free volume 6FDA-based polyimides which in the best case show moderate C3H6/C3H8 selectivities (
Date of AwardDec 6 2016
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorIngo Pinnau (Supervisor)


  • Membranes
  • Propylene/propane
  • Polymers of intrinsic microporosity
  • Gas Separation
  • Polyimide
  • Olefin/Paraffin

Cite this