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ISSN electronic edition: 1336-9075
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Preparation and characterization of (Pebax 1657 + silica nanoparticle)/PVC mixed matrix composite membrane for CO2/N2 separation

Iman Khalilinejad, Ali Kargari, and Hamidreza Sanaeepur

Membrane Processes Research Laboratory (MPRL), Petrochemical Engineering Department, Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic), Mahshahr, Iran



Abstract: In this work, the films of poly(ether-block-amide) (Pebax 1657) and hydrophilic/hydrophobic silica nanoparticles (0–10 wt%) were coated on a poly(vinyl chloride) (PVC) ultrafiltration membrane to form new mixed matrix composite membranes (MMCMs) for CO2/N2 separation. The membranes were characterized by SEM, FTIR, DSC and XRD. Successful formation of a non-porous defect-free dense top layer with ~4 μm of thickness and also uniform dispersion of silica nanoparticles up to 8 wt% loading in Pebax matrix were confirmed by SEM images. The gas permeation results showed an increase in the permeance of all gases and an increase in ideal CO2/N2 selectivity with the increase in silica nanoparticle contents. Comparison between the incorporation of hydrophilic and hydrophobic silica nanoparticle into Pebax matrix revealed that the great enhancement of CO2 solubility is the key factor for the performance improvement of Pebax + silica nanoparticle membranes. The best separation performance of the hydrophilic silica nanoparticle-incorporated Pebax/PVC membrane for pure gases (at 1 bar and 25 °C) was obtained with a CO2 permeability of 124 barrer and an ideal CO2/N2 selectivity of 76, i.e., 63 and 35% higher than those of neat Pebax membrane, respectively. The corresponding values for hydrophobic silica nanoparticle-incorporated Pebax/PVC membrane were 107 barrer for CO2 permeability and 61 for ideal CO2/N2 selectivity. Also the performances of MMCMs improved upon pressure increase (1–10 bar) owing to the shift in plasticizing effect of CO2 towards the higher pressures. In addition, an increase in permeabilities with a decrease in ideal selectivity was observed upon temperature increase (25–50 °C) due to the intensification of chain mobility.

Keywords: Nanocomposite membrane; Pebax; Hydrophilic and hydrophobic silica nanoparticles; PVC; Gas permeation

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.1007/s11696-016-0084-5


Chemical Papers 71 (4) 803–818 (2017)

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