Comparison of the effect of topology type and linker composition of zeolitic imidazolate framework fillers on the performance of mixed matrix membranes in CO2/N2 separation

Qian Jia, Elsa Lasseuguette, Maria-Chiara Ferrari*, Paul Anthony Wright*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) combine the high separation performance of porous materials with the processibility of polymers and so possess potential for carbon capture from CO2-containing gas streams. Zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs) are promising candidates as molecular-sieve fillers in MMMs due to their tunability and ease of synthesis. We have compared four ZIFs, all as nanoparticles of similar sizes (ca. 400 nm), as MMM fillers, to investigate the effects of ZIF structure and chemistry on MMM performance of pure gas (CO2, N2) permeation under the same conditions. The chosen ZIFs include two that exhibit strong CO2 adsorption (hybrid ZIF-7/COK-17 and ZIF-94) and two that have higher pore volumes but weaker CO2 interactions (ZIF-8 and a hybrid ZIF-11/ZIF-71). The hybrid ZIF-7/COK-17 and ZIF-94 are structurally related to ZIF-7 (rhombohedral sod topology) and ZIF-8 (cubic sod), respectively, via partial or complete substitution of benzimidazole or 2-methylimidazole by 4,5-dichloroimidazole or 4-methyl-5-imidazolecarboxaldehyde, while the hybrid ZIF-11/ZIF-71 has the rho topology but the same composition as the ZIF-7/COK-17 hybrid. In the first part of the comparative study, MMMs based on two types of commercial polymers, Matrimid®5218 and PEBAX-MH1657, were prepared containing the ZIF-7/COK-17 hybrid and also with ZIF-94. ZIF-94 shows much better compatibility with the polymers, forming homogeneous dispersions at all loadings attempted (≤35 % wt%) whereas the hybrid shows inhomogeneity above 12 wt% in each case. At 12 wt% loading, both fillers show an increase in CO2 permeability at 1.2 bar and 293 K compared to the pure membrane (in PEBAX, this increases from 49.5 to 60 and 68 Barrer) which is the result of increased solubility compensating for decreased diffusivity, and this improvement in permeability continues to increase at the higher levels of loading possible with ZIF-94. ZIF-7/COK-17 in PEBAX show higher selectivity, achieving a calculated CO2/N2 selectivity up to 70. Further investigation of CO2 and N2 permeation on MMMs with the four ZIFs at 12 wt% in PEBAX-MH1657 showed a clear distinction between the ZIF-94 and ZIF-7/COK-17 MMMs (which show higher membrane solubilities but lower diffusivities) compared to ZIF-8 and ZIF-11/ZIF-71 MMMs. At the loading chosen, the CO2 permeability increase achieved by the four ZIFs over PEBAX-MH1657 increases in the order ZIF-11/-71, ZIF-7-COK-17 (ca. 60 Barrer) < ZIF-94 (68) < ZIF-8 (81), reflecting the complex interplay between CO2 solubility (increasing with interaction strength) and diffusivity (increasing with available cage and window size). The calculated CO2/N2 selectivity is highest for the hybrid ZIF-7/COK-17 membrane (70), which is attributed to molecular sieving effects in the rhombohedral sod structure.
Original languageEnglish
Article number127584
Number of pages15
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
Early online date13 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 May 2024


  • Mixed matrix membranes
  • Zeolitic imidazolate frameworks
  • ZIFs
  • CO2 separation


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