Facile suppression of intensified plasticization in glassy polymer thin films towards scalable composite membranes for propylene/propane separation

Tae Hoon Lee, Min Gyu Shin, Jae Gu Jung, Eui Hyun Suh, Jong Gyu Oh, Jun Hyeok Kang, Bader S. Ghanem, Jaeyoung Jang, Jung Hyun Lee, Ingo Pinnau, Ho Bum Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Membrane-based propylene/propane (C3H6/C3H8) separation has the potential to significantly reduce the extremely high energy consumption in the conventional distillation process. However, no large-scale commercialization case currently exists despite decades of remarkable advancements in membrane materials. This challenge can potentially be attributed to a lack of understanding of the close relationship between material properties and membrane configurations, including confinement-driven transitions in polymer dynamics from the bulk to thin films (<1 μm). We first report design aspects of thin-film composite (TFC) membranes for C3H6/C3H8 separation based on a cost-effective, versatile, and scalable fabrication method. An unprecedented acceleration in C3 hydrocarbon-induced plasticization is observed in TFC membranes as the selective layer thickness decreases, causing anomalous gas transport properties and poor mixed-gas selectivities, which deviate from those of bulk membranes. To overcome this issue, a plasticization resistant (PR) layer is additionally coated onto the TFC membranes. Advanced thin-film characterization techniques, including quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) and nanomechanical analyses, demonstrate effective suppression of intensified plasticization in glassy polymer thin films by introducing a PR layer. Ultimately, the PR layer-coated TFC membranes exhibited excellent mixed-gas C3H6/C3H8 separation performances close to industrial requirements, which can be further extended to prepare large-area TFC membranes by roll-to-roll processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120215
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Volume645
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar 5

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors declare the following financial interests/personal relationships which may be considered as potential competing interests: Ho Bum Park reports financial support was provided by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology . Ho Bum Park reports financial support was provided by Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology .

Funding Information:
This publication is based upon work supported by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology ( KAUST ) Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) under Award No. OSR-2019-CPF-4101.3 and baseline funding for I. Pinnau (BAS/1/1323-01-01). H. B. Park acknowledges the financial support from the Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, under Award No. 20013583 (grant #202100000000669 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Anti-plasticization
  • Olefin/paraffin separation
  • Quartz crystal microbalance
  • Scale-up fabrication
  • Thin-film composite membrane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation

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