Compatibilized Immiscible Polymer Blends and Molecular Sieve Membranes


Non-Confidential Description:

       This invention describes novel nanostructured membranes for gas separations, comprising compatibilized, immiscible high performance co-polyimide (PI)/polybenzimidazole (PBI) blends. The compatibilizer used in this invention is a commercially available and inexpensive imidazole-based small molecule (SM). SEM images revealed that PI/PBI blends without the SM compatibilizer demonstrate a phase-separated matrix-droplet (MD) type morphology. Also, large domains of the dispersed phase were distributed non-uniformly within the membrane matrix indicating an uncontrolled phase separation. The performances of these novel compatibilized membranes have shown remarkable improvement in gas separation properties, surpassing the Robeson’s upper bound for H2/CO2 separations. This is the first report of using a commercially available small molecule as a compatibilizer, which dramatically reduces the expense of currently used technologies, such as the use of co-polymers and nanoparticles as compatibilizers, in order to obtain novel compatibilized membrane nanostructures comprising blends of high performance immiscible polymers. 


Figure 1:  Top: Proposed novel membrane microstructure in which a highly permeable polymer (red) is dispersed in a continuous, highly selective polymer matrix (white). Bottom: SEM images of 6FDD:PBI (50:50) membrane cross sections (A) before and (B) after selective THF extraction of 6FDD.



Value Proposition:

       A novel compatibilized membrane that uses a commercially-available small molecule to achieve remarkable improvement in gas separation properties and reduced expense when compared with the current standards.


Key Benefits:

•       Less time-consuming and more cost-effective than current methods

•       High gas permeability and selectivity

•       Larger interfacial area for enhanced flux


Potential Applications:

•       Gas separation

•       Fuel cells

•       Biological separation

•       Pervaporation



•       John Ferraris, Ph.D.

•       Kenneth Balkus, Ph.D.

•       Inga Musselman, Ph.D.


IP Status: Patent pending. 

Licensing Opportunity: This technology is available for exclusive or non-exclusive licensing.


ID Number: MP-14059

Patent Information:
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