Carbon molecular sieve dense film membranes derived from Matrimid® for ethylene/ethane separation

Meha Rungta, Liren Xu, William J. Koros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


Development of dense film carbon molecular sieve (CMS) membranes for ethylene/ethane (C 2H 4/C 2H 6) separation is reported. A commercial polyimide, Matrimid®, was pyrolyzed under vacuum and inert argon atmosphere, and the resultant CMS films were characterized using pure C 2H 4 and C 2H 6 permeation at 35 °C, 50 psia feed pressure. The effects on C 2H 4/C 2H 6 separation caused by different final vacuum pyrolysis temperatures from 500 to 800 °C are reported. For all pyrolysis temperatures separation surpassed the estimated 'upper bound' solution processable polymer line for C 2H 4 permeability vs. C 2H 4/C 2H 6 selectivity. C 2H 4 permeability decreased and selectivity increased with increasing pyrolysis temperature until 650-675 °C where an optimum combination of C 2H 4 permeability ∼14-15 Barrer with C 2H 4/C 2H 6 selectivity ∼12 was observed. A modified heating rate protocol for 675 °C showed further increase in permeability with no selectivity loss. CMS films produced from argon pyrolysis showed results comparable to vacuum pyrolysis. Further, mixed gas (63.2 mol% C 2H 4 + 36.8 mol% C 2H 6) permeation showed a slightly lower C 2H 4 permeability with C 2H 4/C 2H 6 selectivity increase rather than a decrease that is often seen with polymers. The high selectivity of these membranes was shown to arise from a high 'entropic selection' indicating that the 'slimmer' ethylene molecule has significant advantage over ethane in passing through the rigid 'slit-shaped' CMS pore structure. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1488-1502
Number of pages15
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


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