Functionalized carbon nanotubes mixed matrix membranes of polymers of intrinsic microporosity for gas separation
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Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:504 doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-504Published: 6 September 2012
The present work reports on the gas transport behavior of mixed matrix membranes (MMM) which were prepared from multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and dispersed within polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIM-1) matrix. The MWCNTs were chemically functionalized with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) for a better dispersion in the polymer matrix. MMM-incorporating functionalized MWCNTs (f-MWCNTs) were fabricated by dip-coating method using microporous polyacrylonitrile membrane as a support and were characterized for gas separation performance. Gas permeation measurements show that MMM incorporated with pristine or functionalized MWCNTs exhibited improved gas separation performance compared to pure PIM-1. The f-MWCNTs MMM show better performance in terms of permeance and selectivity in comparison to pristine MWCNTs. The gas permeances of the derived MMM are increased to approximately 50% without sacrificing the selectivity at 2 wt.% of f-MWCNTs' loading. The PEG groups on the MWCNTs have strong interaction with CO2 which increases the solubility of polar gas and limit the solubility of nonpolar gas, which is advantageous for CO2/N2 selectivity. The addition of f-MWCNTs inside the polymer matrix also improved the long-term gas transport stability of MMM in comparison with PIM-1. The high permeance, selectivity, and long term stability of the fabricated MMM suggest that the reported approach can be utilized in practical gas separation technology.