Scalable techniques for the formation of polymer-nanoplatelet hybrid membranes and characterization thereof
Johnson, Justin Ryan
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Polymer-nanoplatelet hybrid membranes show promise as the next generation of membranes, but in order to make these realizable, methods to produce these materials on a large scale are necessary. Some authors have successfully produced these types of gas separation membranes. Typically these reports have utilized melt blending and in situ polymerization. Few, however, have utilized solution blending for creating membranes via phase inversion (asymmetric membranes). And to date, there have not been any reports regarding the fabrication of asymmetric membranes containing nanoplatelet filler materials. In this work we have developed a solution-based procedure for the formation of hybrid polymer-nanoplatelet dopes for dense film and asymmetric hollow fiber membrane formation. Dense film membrane studies were used to prove the effectiveness of our exfoliation and dispersion process developed for this work. Permeation measurements showed the hybrid membranes have desirable transport properties that are on par with mathematical model predictions. Additionally, TEM characterization provided strong evidence supporting the efficacy of our preparation procedures to produce an exfoliated system of nanoplatelets. We also showed that these procedures are applicable to different polymer systems (cellulose acetate and Torlon) of commercial relevance. Demonstrating the successful production of dense films set the stage for asymmetric hollow fiber membrane formation. We report the first production of asymmetric hollow fiber membranes containing nanoplatelet fillers; indicating that the process can be applied in a realistic membrane formation platform. These accomplishments serve as the groundwork for future nanocomposite formation.