The pressure-driven transport of water, ethanol, and 1-propanol through supported -alumina membranes with different pore diameters is reported. Water and alcohols had similar permeabilities when they were transported through y-alumina membranes with average pore diameters of 4.4 and 6.0 nm, and the permeability coefficient was found to be proportional to the square of pore size, in accordance with a viscous flow mechanism. For transport through membranes with an average diameter of 3.2 nm, the behavior of water was in accordance with the viscous flow mechanism, but the permeability of the membrane for ethanol and 1-propanol was much smaller than expected and could not be explained in terms of viscous flow. Although the low permeability of the membrane with 3.2 nm pores for ethanol and 1-propanol was partly due to the presence of small amounts of water in the alcohols, the permeability coefficients were still substantially smaller when water was absent. This intrinsic difference between water and alcohol may be due to differences in molecular size, chemisorption of alcohols on the oxide pore wall, which would lead to a reduction of the effective pore size, and/or a certain degree of translational ordering of the alcohol molecules inside the membrane pores, which leads to an effectively higher viscosity and, therefore, to a higher transport resistance.
Roy Chowdhury, S., Blank, D. H. A., & ten Elshof, J. E. (2005). Factors influencing the transport rate of short-chain alcohols through mesoporous y-alumina membranes. Journal of physical chemistry B, 109(47), 22141-22146. https://doi.org/10.1021%2Fjp054743o