Thermally crosslinked polyimide hollow fiber membranes for natural gas purification
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Robust industrially relevant membranes for CO₂ removal from aggressive natural gas feed streams were developed and characterized. Asymmetric hollow fiber membranes with defect-free selective skin layers on an optimized porous support substructure were successfully spun and subsequently stabilized by covalent crosslinking within the economical membrane formation process. Thermal treatment conditions, which promote sufficient crosslinking without introducing defects or undesired substructure resistance, were identified. It was found that crosslinking improves membrane efficiency and plasticization resistance as well as mechanical strength of fibers. The capability to maintain attractive separation performance under realistic operating conditions and durability against deleterious impurities suggests that the crosslinked fibers have great potential for use in diverse aggressive applications, even beyond the CO₂/CH₄ example explored in this work.