Novel microporous polymers for use as gas separation membranes
Lee, Michael James
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Polymers of Intrinsic Microporosity (PIMs) combine the desirable processability of polymers with a significant degree of microporosity generated from the inefficient packing of their rigid and contorted structures. They are attracting attention for a variety of applications including as membrane materials for gas separations. Over the last 30 years, membranes have become an established technology for separating gases and are likely to play key role in reducing the environmental impact and costs of many industrial processes such as O2 or N2 enrichment from air, natural gas upgrading and hydrogen recovery from ammonia production. This thesis describes the synthesis of a series of novel PIMs, primarily PIM-polyimide structures (PIM-PI) and investigates their potential in such applications. In particular, it focuses on the design and synthesis of solution processable PIMs in order to study how structural differences affect the gas permeability. The first section describes the synthesis of a variety of PIM-PIs using large bulky diamines derived from spirobisindane (SBI) and biphenylfluorene (BPF) structures which are useful monomers for achieving high BET (Brunauer-Emmett- Teller) surface areas (> 650 m2 g-1). The second section describes a whole series PIs based on novel and literature based Tröger’s base (TB) diamine monomers. Most of these exhibited good solubility, excellent thermal stability and intrinsic microporosity, with apparent BET surface areas in the range 450-739 m2 g-1. Notably, a polyimide derived from Me2TB and pyromellitic anhydride demonstrates gas permeability data above the 2008 upper bounds for important gas pairs such as O2/N2, H2/N2 and H2/CH4. The third section aims to enforce rigidity within the polymers further by incorporating differently substituted monomers based on rigid ethanoanthracene (EA) units. This includes the formation of a novel EA-EA based PI with an exceptionally rigid polymeric structure, possessing a BET surface area of 694 m2 g-1. In addition to very high permeability, this polymer demonstrates improved gas selectivity due to its enhanced performance as a molecular sieve, placing it amongst some of the highest performing polymers to date. The final section looks at other ways in which rigidity can be enforced including the formation of TB-polymers and thermally rearranged (TR) polymers and assesses their potential for future investigations.