We report on how the morphology of the polymer matrix, i.e. amorphous vs. semi-crystalline, affects the gas transport properties in a series of mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) using Cu3(BTC)2 as the metal organic framework (MOF) filler. The aim of our work is to demonstrate how incorporation of Cu3(BTC)2 affects the polyetherimide matrix morphology and thereby highlighting the importance of selecting the appropriate polyetherimide matrix for mixed matrix membranes. We used three amorphous poly(etherimide)s with very similar backbone structures. Polyetherimide ODPA-P1 was used as a linear flexible matrix, aBPDA-P1 is a non-linear rigid matrix and 6FDA-P1 was selected because the backbone structure is similar to ODPA-P1 but replacing the oxygen linker with two bulky –CF3 groups results in a linear polymer with a low chain packing efficiency. Using an in-situ polymerization technique, up to 20 wt.% Cu3(BTC)2 could be homogenously dispersed in all three PEIs. The ODPA-P1 matrix crystallized when Cu3(BTC)2 was introduced as a filler. Gas permeation studies were performed by analyzing membrane performance using a 50:50 CO2:CH4 mixed gas feed. The presence of crystalline domains in ODPA-P1 resulted in a decrease in permeability for both CO2 and CH4 but the selectivity increased from 41 to 52 at 20 wt.% Cu3(BTC)2. The non-linear, rigid, aBPDA-P1 matrix remains amorphous when Cu3(BTC)2 is introduced. SEM images of the MMM cross-section revealed a sieve-in-a-cage morphology and at 20 wt.% Cu3(BTC)2, the permeation of both CO2 and CH4 increased by 68% thereby negating any change in selectivity. For 6FDA-P1 with 20 wt.% Cu3(BTC)2, only the permeability of CO2 increased by 68% resulting in an increase in selectivity of 33%.
Hegde, M., Shahid, S., Norder, B., Dingemans, T. J., & Nijmeijer, D. C. (2015). Gas transport in metal organic framework–polyetherimide mixed matrix membranes: The role of the polyetherimide backbone structure. Polymer, 81, 87-98. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polymer.2015.11.002