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Separating Molecules by Size in SAPO-34 Membranes

Journal of Membrane Science
DOI: 10.1016/j.memsci.2014.01.032
  • Sapo-34 Membrane
  • Molecular Sieving
  • Membrane Defects
  • Co2/Ch4Separations


Abstract SAPO-34 membranes that have CO2/CH4 separation selectivities of ∼100 at 295K and pressures up to 4.6MPa also show high molecular sieving separations of mixtures containing i-butane (0.50-nm kinetic diameter) or CF4 (0.47nm). The separation selectivities were 15,000–20,000 for CO2/i-butane from 295 to 420K, and 12,000–20,000 for CO2/CF4 for feed pressures up to 0.5MPa at 295K. These may be the highest gas-phase separation selectivities reported for zeolite membranes, and they are likely lower limits because of concentration polarization, leakage around O-rings, and i-butane diffusion through the silicone O-rings. The low defect concentration was also confirmed by spatial defect distributions measured with i-butane. Thus, less than 1% of the CH4 permeation during CO2/CH4 separations is through defects larger than 0.47nm. Isobutane, even though it is too large to adsorb in SAPO-34 pores (0.38-nm diameter), appeared to inhibit CO2 permeation by adsorbing on the external surface. These SAPO-34 membranes also separated H2/i-butane with lower limits on selectivities of 6,000 at 295K and 10,000–14,000 at 423K, and they were also selective for He/CH4 separation (selectivity=20) and H2/CH4 separation (selectivity=35–45). In these separations, both He and H2 appear to speed up CH4 permeation, as expected from molecular simulations reported previously. Also, CH4 appears to slow diffusion of CO2, He, and H2.

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