With this proposal, I seek to develop the gas separating membranes of the future. The overall aim is to produce composite membranes comprising engineered Metal Organic Framework (MOF) particles and polymers in the form of Mixed Matrix Membranes (MMMs). By applying these new membranes, energetically more efficient separations will be possible.
Despite the superior performance of membranes only based on crystalline materials like zeolites or MOFs, polymeric membranes rule the commercial scene thanks to their easy processing, high reproducibility and mechanical strength. However, the existing polymeric membrane materials are not optimal: improvements in permeability are always at the expense of selectivity and vice versa, while plasticization threatens their application at high pressures. This research aims at utilizing the best of both fields by combining the high selectivity of MOFs with the easy processing of polymers in the form of Mixed Matrix Membranes.
The main barrier to achieve this goal is the optimization of the MOF-polymer interaction and mass transport through the composite. This is very challenging because chemical compatibility, particle morphology and filler dispersion play a key role. Innovatively the project will be the first systematic study into this multi-scale phenomenon with investigations at all relevant interactions, including MOF particle tuning targeting the application in MMMs.
A thorough study on the synthesis of the selected MOF structures and on the performance of the composites will allow engineering MOFs at the molecular and particle levels, resulting in higher selectivity and faster transport. The use of flexible MOF structures will not only allow a better membrane processing but will also reduce polymer plasticization.
This research will deliver a new generation of mixed matrix membranes, outperforming the state of the art polymeric membranes.
Fields of science
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