Competitive sorption in CO2/CH4 separations: the case of HAB-6FDA polyimide and its TR derivative and a general analysis of its impact on the selectivity of glassy polymers at multicomponent conditions

Eleonora Ricci, Francesco M. Benedetti, Michelle E. Dose, Maria Grazia De Angelis, Benny D. Freeman, Donald R. Paul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


CO2 and CH4 mixed-gas solubility was measured in 3,3′-dihydroxy-4,4′-diamino-biphenyl (HAB) 2,2′-bis-(3,4-dicarboxyphenyl) hexafluoropropane dianhydride (6FDA) polyimide and in its thermally rearranged (TR) derivative, TR450. Due to competitive sorption effects, the solubility of both species in mixed-gas conditions is lower than the corresponding pure-gas solubility at the same fugacity. CH4 sorption is significantly affected by the presence of the second gas, while CO2 behavior is hardly altered. Therefore, the multicomponent solubility-selectivity is higher than the ideal value calculated from pure-gas sorption data, and this has a positive impact on CO2/CH4 separation properties. The multicomponent solubility data were modelled with the Non-Equilibrium Lattice Fluid (NELF) model, using only pure component parameters and binary interaction parameters obtained from pure-gas sorption data available in the literature, with no parameters determined from the mixed-gas sorption data. Although it is easier to use, the multicomponent Dual Mode Sorption (DMS) model yielded less accurate predictions of mixed-gas sorption. Mixed-gas sorption experiments and modelling, coupled with mixed-gas permeation data, enabled a better fundamental understanding of the separation properties of these materials. Unlike the case of pure-gas experiments, where diffusivity contributes more to the overall ideal selectivity, competitive sorption is the main effect governing the permselectivity of these membrane materials at multicomponent conditions. A systematic comparison with literature data on mixed-gas CO2/CH4 sorption and permeability revealed these to be generalized trends, obeyed by materials of very different chemical constitution. This finding can inform on the criteria that make polymers performing better in multicomponent scenarios, with potential impact on the design and synthesis strategies of new materials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118374
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Gas separation
  • Mixed-gas sorption
  • NELF model
  • Solution-diffusion
  • TR polymers

Cite this