UNS: New Strategies for Ultra-Thin Sub-10 nm Thick Zeolitic Imidazolate Framework Membranes with Tunable Molecular Sieving Properties
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Jeong 151530 Texas Engineering Exp Sta Separations of desired chemicals from undesired ones are critically important for chemical and petrochemical industries. Conventional separation technologies, including distillation and condensation, are highly energy intensive. Due to the limitations of the state-of-the-art membrane materials, there are no commercially available membranes for the separation of industrially important hydrocarbon gases. Novel molecular sieves (i.e., materials with well-defined molecular-scale pores and channels) have been explored as membrane materials. The proposed work intends to develop innovative new approaches 1) to reduce the cost of membranes by making molecular sieving membranes very efficient and 2) to make the sieve size readily adjustable for the separation of gas mixtures of interest. The completely new strategies proposed here are expected to lead to a serious of molecular sieving materials with their sieve sizes finely-tuned for the custom separations of gas mixtures of industrial interest. The goal of the proposed effort is to develop new approaches to fabricate ultra-thin sub-10 nanometer thick zeolitic imidazolate framework (ZIF) membranes as well as to continuously tailor their molecular sieving properties for the separations of gas mixtures of interest. Zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs), a sub-class of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), offer unique opportunities in gas separations primarily due to their ultra-micropores (pores smaller than 5 Ã…) and their unusual thermal/chemical stabilities. To address the fundamental materials limitations as well as the processing challenges mentioned above, the PI proposes to develop new strategies that enable 1) the synthesis of ultra-thin ZIF membranes and 2) the control of their molecular sieving properties for the custom separations of gas mixtures of interest. The proposed strategies will be truly transformative in that they enable the preparation of highly efficient and productive molecular sieving membranes, potentially replacing highly energy-intensive current separation processes, thereby significantly reducing energy consumption. The students involved in this project will be trained in multi-disciplinary areas ranging from material synthesis/characterization to membrane science and technologies.