Tröger’s Base Ladder Polymer for Membrane-Based Hydrocarbon Separation
KAUST DepartmentPhysical Sciences and Engineering (PSE) Division
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AbstractThe use of polymeric membranes for natural gas separation has rapidly increased during the past three decades, particularly for carbon dioxide separation from natural gas. Another valuable application is the separation of heavy hydrocarbons from methane (fuel gas conditioning), more importantly for remote area and off-shore applications. A new potential polymeric membrane that might be utilized for natural gas separations is a Tröger’s base ladder polymer (PIM-Trip-TB-2). This glassy polymeric membrane was synthesized by the polymerization reaction of 9, 10-dimethyl-2,6 (7) diaminotriptycene with dimethoxymethane. In this research, the polymer was selected due to its high surface area and highly interconnected microporous structure. Sorption isotherms of nitrogen (N2), oxygen (O¬2), methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), ethane (C2H6), propane (C3H8), and n-butane (n-C4H10) were measured at 35 °C over a range of pressures using a Hiden Intelligent Gravimetric Analyzer, IGA. The more condensable gases (C2H6, CO2, C3H8, and n-C4H10) showed high solubility due to their high affinity to the polymer matrix. The permeation coefficients were determined for various gases at 35 °C and pressure difference of 5 bar via the constant-pressure/variable-volume method. The PIM-Trip-TB-2 film exhibited high performance for several high-impact applications, such as O2/N2, H2/N2 and H2/CH4. Also, physical aging for several gases was examined by measuring the permeability coefficients at different periods of time. Moreover, a series of mixed-gas permeation tests was performed using 2 vol.% n-C4H10/98 vol.% CH4 and the results showed similar transport characteristics to other microporous polymers with pores of less than 2 nm. The work performed in this research suggested that PIM-Trip-TB-2 is suitable for the separation of: (i) higher hydrocarbons from methane and (ii) small, non-condensable gases such as O2/N2 and H2/CH4.