Penetrant competition and plasticization in membranes: How negatives can be positives in natural gas sweetening

Abstract
Membranes are attractive for upgrading natural gas; however, the gas permeation processes through membranes are challenging to control. The coexistence of condensable H2S and CO2 typically causes membrane performance to decline under practical feed conditions, due to uncontrolled penetrate competition and undesired plasticization of the membrane polymer matrix. In this paper, we report a strategy to successfully transform these apparent negatives, i.e. plasticization and penetrate competition, into positives that boost the natural gas sweetening efficiency of membranes greatly. Our strategy is to disperse engineered metal organic framework (MOF) fillers into designed polymer matrices to form hybrid membranes, which promote the permeation of both H2S and CO2 but hinder CH4 permeation. Moreover, uniformly dispersed MOF fillers also significantly alter the plasticization responses of polymer matrices, enabling controlled plasticization benefits. Ultimately, we illustrate a highly tunable MOF-polymer hybrid membrane platform that meets the diverse natural gas sweetening requirements under aggressive conditions.

Citation
Liu, Y., Chen, Z., Qiu, W., Liu, G., Eddaoudi, M., & Koros, W. J. (2021). Penetrant competition and plasticization in membranes: How negatives can be positives in natural gas sweetening. Journal of Membrane Science, 119201. doi:10.1016/j.memsci.2021.119201

Acknowledgements
The research supported in this publication was supported by DOE BES grant (DE-FG02-04ER15510) and KAUST CRG Research Grant URF/1/222–01. Y.L., W.Q., G.L., and W.J.K. acknowledge the support by the Roberto C. Goizueta Chair fund and the Specialty Separations Center at Georgia Institute of Technology for assistance in equipment resource funds.

Publisher
Elsevier BV

Journal
Journal of Membrane Science

DOI
10.1016/j.memsci.2021.119201

Additional Links
https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0376738821001514

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