Membrane gas separation processes represent a crucial platform for achieving carbon neutral climate goals. CO2-philic membranes offer excellent solubility selectivity due to their high affinity, thereby allowing the separation of gas fractions with similar molecular sizes or smaller than CO2 molecules. This level of separation is difficult to achieve with conventional diffusion-dominated separation membranes. However, the gas permeability of PEO membranes is often hampered by dense chain packing and crystallization behavior. To overcome this challenge, we employed a molecular engineering approach to develop a unique PEO membrane with a hyperbranched chemical topology connection. The packing density of the polymer chains was effectively regulated by employing cross-linker molecules with distinct spatial configurations, while the free volume fraction was successfully reinforced. This unique molecular engineering strategy led to the creation of a PEO membrane exhibiting superior performance that surpassed the limit of the 2019 upper-bound line. This work demonstrated a molecular design strategy for the precise control of structural attributes in crosslinked PEO networks, offering an alternative solution for developing CO2 capture membranes and enabling further opportunities for rational membrane material design.
|Journal of Membrane Science
|Published - 5 Nov 2023