Optimization of asymmetric hollow fiber membranes for natural gas separation
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Compared to the conventional amine adsorption process to separate CO₂ from natural gas, the membrane separation technology has exhibited advantages in easy operation and lower capital cost. However, the high CO₂ partial pressure in natural gas can plasticize the membranes, which can lead to the loss of CH₄ and low CO₂/CH₄ separation efficiency. Crosslinking of polymer membranes have been proven effective to increase the CO₂ induced plasticization resistance by controlling the degree of swelling and segmental chain mobility in the polymer. This thesis focuses on extending the success of crosslinking to more productive asymmetric hollow fibers. In this work, the productivity of asymmetric hollow fibers was optimized by reducing the effective selective skin layer thickness. Thermal crosslinking and catalyst assisted crosslinking were performed on the defect-free thin skin hollow fibers to stabilize the fibers against plasticization. The natural gas separation performance of hollow fibers was evaluated by feeding CO₂/CH₄ gas mixture with high CO₂ content and pressure.