Torlon® and Silicalite Mixed Matrix Membranes for Xylene Isomer Purification

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Chafin, Raymond William, II
Koros, William J.
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Organic/inorganic materials have a high potential to enable major advances in membrane performance. It has previously been impossible to develop polymeric systems with adequate transport properties for xylene purification. Zeolite membranes have been created with the appropriate selectivities; however low productivity, low mechanical durability, and high capital costs have kept these materials from being utilized. So-called mixed matrix hybrid organic/inorganic membranes combine the mechanical durability and cost effectiveness of polymeric membranes with the enhanced performance of zeolitic structures. This project will focus on investigating polymeric and molecular sieve materials for mixed matrix membrane use in xylene isomer separation as a model system. Torlon polyamide-imide has unique properties that should be potentially useful in a mixed matrix composite. Silicalite will be investigated as the dispersed phased given its proven applicability with xylene isomers. The overarching goal is to establish an approach for creation of mixed matrix materials that can be broadly applied to challenging organic separations. This project has three specific goals: (1) characterization of Torlons inherent properties, processing ability, and important transport potential, (2) characterization of zeolite matching properties and the effect of interfacial engineering on these properties, and (3) development of appropriate approaches to combine the sieve and polymer to obtain a hybrid material with properties that match theoretically predicted separation property enhancements relative to the neat polymer. High temperature pervaporation will be used to evaluate material transport properties, as this experimental setup closely mimics the high activity vapor streams found in many industrial xylene processes. The results of this research will be used to develop a protocol for development of future mixed matrix membranes that may be applied to a variety of organic liquid systems.
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