Crosslinkable mixed matrix membranes for the purification of natural gas
Ward, Jason Keith
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Mixed matrix nanocomposite membranes composed of a crosslinkable polyimide matrix and high-silica molecular sieve particles were developed for purifying natural gas. It was shown that ideal mixed matrix effects were not possible without sieve surface modification. A previously developed Grignard procedure was utilized to deposit magnesium hydroxide nanostructures on the sieve surface in order to enhance polymer adhesion. Analyses of Grignard-treated sieves pointed to the formation of non-selective voids within the surface deposited layer. These voids were suspected to lead to lower-than-expected membrane performance. In order to improve membrane transport, a reactive sizing procedure was developed to fill these voids with polyimide-miscible material. In a serendipitous discovery, as-received sieves--when treated with this reactive sizing procedure--resulted in nearly identical membrane performance as reactive-sized, Grignard-treated sieves. This observation lead to the speculation of a non-ideal transport mechanism in mixed matrix membranes.