Gas permeation properties, physical aging, and its mitigation in high free volume glassy polymers

Ze Xian Low, Peter M. Budd, Neil B. McKeown, Darrell A. Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

397 Citations (Scopus)


Hundreds of polymers have been evaluated as membrane materials for gas separations, but fewer than 10 have made it into current commercial applications, mainly due to the effects of physical aging and plasticization. Efforts to overcome these two problems are a significant focus in gas separation membrane research, in conjunction with improving membrane separation performance to surpass the Robeson upper bounds of selectivity versus permeability for commercially important gas pairs. While there has been extensive research, ranging from manipulating the chemistry of existing polymers (e.g., thermally rearranged or cross-linked polyimides) to synthesizing new polymers such as polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs), there have been three major oversights that this review addresses: (1) the need to compare the approaches to achieving the best performance in order to identify their effectiveness in improving gas transport properties and in mitigating aging, (2) a common standardized aging protocol that allows rapid determination of the success (or not) of these approaches, and (3) standard techniques that can be used to characterize aging and plasticization across all studies to enable them to be robustly and equally compared. In this review, we also provide our perspectives on a few key aspects of research related to high free volume polymer membranes: (1) the importance of Robeson plots for membrane aging studies, (2) eliminating thermal history, (3) measurement and reporting of gas permeability and aging rate, (4) aging and storing conditions, and (5) promising approaches to mitigate aging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5871-5911
Number of pages41
JournalChemical Reviews
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

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