Crosslinked Polymeric Membranes for High Performance Gas Separations

Tech ID: 20-051

Inventor: Dr. Ruilan Guo

Date added: June 29, 2020


A new technique for fabricating crosslinked polymeric membranes with precisely controlled model network structures achieving superior gas separation performance. 

Technology Summary

The market of gas separation membranes has been growing at 7-8% per year since the 1980s, projected to be a $2.61 billion industry by 2022. Traditionally, gas separation used technologies such as pressure swing absorption and cryogenic distillation, which require a significant amount of energy and space to effectively separate various gasses. In order to reduce energy and space requirements, membrane separation technology has recently been implemented due to increased operational simplicity, lowered energy consumption and increased applications in remote or offshore environments. However, many polymers used to create these membranes lose their initial separation performance or even degrade during long term separation processes. In order to overcome this issue, crosslinking polymers to create membranes has become a popular process to improve membrane’s durability and provide resistance to plasticization and aging. These crosslinking processes, however, are random which causes unpredictable performance and has limited adjustability. Additionally, in the current state of crosslinking polymeric membranes technology increased selectivity and improved membrane stability sacrifices permeability.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have recently developed a novel technique to fabricate crosslinked membranes and regulate microstructures that outperform existing crosslinked membranes in gas separation via synergistic tuning of crosslink density and crosslink inhomogeneity and adjusting thermal protocols during membrane preparation. This technique prepares membranes with model network structures from telechelic oligomers via new end-linking process. The crosslinked model network polymeric membranes developed by the University of Notre Dame are a better alternative than existing crosslinked polymer gas separation membranes because it achieves excellent membrane stability and highly selective gas separation without sacrificing permeability.  This technique shows potential to serve as a replacement of thermal-driven separation in industry applications and support hydrogen recovery, natural gas purification, and air separation.

Market Advantages

•    Superior gas separation performance to other existing crosslinked membranes. 
•    Maintains permeability while also increasing selectivity of gas separation and achieving excellent membrane stability. 

Market Opportunity

•    Wide range of separation applications such as natural gas purification (CO2/CH4), hydrogen separation/purification (H2/CH4, H2/CO2, H2/N2), carbon capture (CO2/N2), and air separation (O2/N2).
•    Potential to be expanded to other challenging separations such as separations of light hydrocarbons and organic solvent filtration. 

Technology Readiness Status

TRL 4 - Lab Validation 


Richard Cox