Polycarbonate based zeolite 4A filled mixed matrix membranes: Preparation, characterization and gas separation performances

Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering, Turkey

Approval Date: 2008

Student: DEĞER ŞEN



Developing new membrane morphologies and modifying the existing membrane materials are required to obtain membranes with improved gas separation performances. The incorporation of zeolites and low molecular-weight additives (LMWA) into polymers are investigated as alternatives to modify the permselective properties of polymer membranes. In this study, these two alternatives were applied together to improve the separation performance of a polymeric membrane. The polycarbonate (PC) chain characteristics was altered by incorporating p-nitroaniline (pNA) as a LMWA and the PC membrane morphology was modified by introducing zeolite 4A particles as fillers. For this purpose, pure PC and PC/pNA dense homogenous membranes, and PC/zeolite 4A and PC/pNA/zeolite 4A mixed matrix membranes (MMM) were prepared by solvent-evaporation method using dichloromethane as the solvent. The pNA and zeolite 4A concentrations in the casting solutions were changed between 1-5% (w/w) and 5-30% (w/w), respectively. Membranes were characterized by SEM, DSC, and single gas permeability measurements of N2, H2, O2, CH4 and CO2. They were also tested for their binary gas separation performances with CO2/CH4, CO2/N2 and H2/CH4 mixtures at different feed gas compositions. DSC analysis of the membranes showed that, incorporation of zeolite 4A particles into PC/pNA increased the glass transition temperatures, Tg, but incorporation of them to pure PC had no effect on the Tg, suggesting that pNA was a necessary agent for interaction between zeolite 4A and PC matrix. The ideal selectivities increased in the order of pure PC, PC/zeolite 4A MMMs and PC/pNA/zeolite 4A MMMs despite a loss in the permeabilities with respect to pure PC. A significant improvement was achieved in selectivities when the PC/pNA/zeolite 4A MMMs were prepared with pNA concentrations of 1 % and 2 % (w/w) and with a zeolite loading of 20 % (w/w). The H2/CH4 and CO2/CH4 selectivities of PC/pNA (1%)/zeolite 4A (20%) membrane were 121.3 and 51.8, respectively, which were three times higher than those of pure PC membrane. Binary gas separation performance of the membranes showed that separation selectivities of pure PC and PC/pNA homogenous membranes were nearly the same as the ideal selectivities regardless of the feed gas composition. On the other hand, for PC/zeolite 4A and PC/pNA/zeolite 4A MMMs, the separation selectivities were always lower than the respective ideal selectivities for all binary gas mixtures, and demonstrated a strong feed composition dependency indicating the importance of gas-membrane matrix interactions in MMMs. For CO2/CH4 binary gas mixture, when the CO2 concentration in the feed increased to 50 %, the selectivities decreased from 31.9 to 23.2 and 48.5 to 22.2 for PC/zeolite 4A (20%) and PC/pNA (2%)/zeolite 4A (20%) MMMs, respectively. In conclusion, high performance PC based MMMs were prepared by blending PC with small amounts of pNA and introducing zeolite 4A particles. The prepared membranes showed promising results to separate industrially important gas mixtures depending on the feed gas compositions.