Team Nanostructured Membranes
Nanostructured Porous Membranes
The nanomaterial chemistry toolbox offers an infinite perspective to engineer porous membranes with nanoscale features for challenging and demanding applications such as gas separations and solvent recovery. Textured surfaces can be engineered via the nanoconfinement of smart polymer brushes or surface polymerization of organic networks. Nanochannels can now be prepared using two-dimensional porous nanomaterials. However, to achieve complete control of the behavior and properties of these hybrid/inorganic porous membranes, it is essential to master their features (e.g. pore diameter, thickness, and surface composition) at the nanoscale. This is the goal of the next generation of hybrid porous membranes which will push further the combination of two-dimensional nanomaterials (e.g. zeolites, metal-organic frameworks) and the science of organic surface-modification to engineer nanostructured membranes.
Metal-organic frameworks and zeolites nanosheets
Metal-organic frameworks and zeolite nanosheets are ultrathin two-dimensional nanomaterials with well-defined pores which can only let certain gases pass through. This feature is particularly interesting for the separation of hydrogen from natural gas, injected in for transportation, and the separation of carbon dioxide from the air as produced in the cement industry. The ideal membrane should be mechanically robust and as thin as possible so that it does not rupture in continuous operation and enables rapid transport of the gas molecules. Producing such membranes without defects on porous ceramic supports remains a challenge. By varying the chemical surface composition of the supports and nanosheets using smart polymers, it is possible to cure or prevent defects. The first goal of the Nanostructured Membranes team is, therefore, to combine the nanosheets' separation properties with the polymers' flexibility and the support's stiffness.
Innovative up-scaling approaches
The other focus is on the fabrication of robust membranes using methods that can be easily scaled up. After transferring the MOFs and zeolite nanomaterials into stable suspensions, the fabrication of high-quality 2D nanomaterial-based membranes using solution-based deposition and printing techniques is explored using the ceramic manufacturing technology available at IEK-1. Computer-aided modeling tools are used to investigate the properties of the materials during gas separation. Molecular dynamic simulations will accelerate this process by providing insights into the nature of the inter/intramolecular interactions and their influence on the separation behavior of gases.