• pervaporation dehydration;
  • polybenzimidazole;
  • dual-layer hollow fiber membrane;
  • acetone;
  • thermal treatment;
  • crosslinking


Acetone dehydration via pervaporation is challenging, because acetone and water have close molecular sizes, and acetone has a much higher vapor pressure than water. Acetone is also a powerful solvent, which dissolves or swells most polymers. We have developed novel polybenzimidazole/BTDA-TDI/MDI (PBI/P84) dual-layer hollow fibers for pervaporation dehydration of acetone for industrial and biofuel separations. Both thermal and chemical crosslinking modifications were applied to the membranes to investigate their effectiveness to overcome acetone-induced swelling. Thermal treatment can effectively enhance separation performance, but performance stability can only be achieved through the crosslinking modification of PBI. Crosslinking by p-xylene dichloride followed by a thermal treatment above 250°C show significant effectiveness to improve and stabilize pervaporation performance. The fractional free volume of the PBI selective layer reduces from 3.27 to 1.98% and 1.33%, respectively, after thermal treatment and a combination of chemical/thermal crosslinking modifications characterized by positron annihilation spectroscopy. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2012