SEPARATION MEMBRANES: Interfacial microfluidic processing of metal-organic framework hollow fiber membranes

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Molecular sieving metal-organic framework (MOF) membranes have great potential for energy-efficient chemical separations, but a major hurdle is the lack of a scalable and inexpensive membrane fabrication mechanism. We describe a route for processing MOF membranes in polymeric hollow fibers, combining a two-solvent interfacial approach for positional control over membrane formation (at inner and outer surfaces, or in the bulk, of the fibers), a microfluidic approach to replenishment or recycling of reactants, and an in situ module for membrane fabrication and permeation. We fabricated continuous molecular sieving ZIF-8 membranes in single and multiple poly(amide-imide) hollow fibers, with H2/C3H8 and C3H6/C3H8 separation factors as high as 370 and 12, respectively. We also demonstrate positional control of the ZIF-8 films and characterize the contributions of membrane defects and lumen bypass.

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