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Keywords:

  • activation energy;
  • membranes;
  • selectivity;
  • zeolites

Abstract

ZSM-5 zeolite-incorporated poly(dimethyl siloxane) membranes were prepared, and the molecular dispersion of the zeolite in the membrane matrix was confirmed with scanning electron microscopy. After the swelling of the membranes was studied at 30°C, the membranes were subjected to the pervaporation separation of isopropyl alcohol/water mixtures at 30, 40, and 50°C. The effects of the zeolite loading and feed composition on the pervaporation performances of the membranes were analyzed. Both the permeation flux and selectivity increased simultaneously with increasing zeolite content in the membrane matrix. This was examined on the basis of the enhancement of hydrophobicity, selective adsorption, and the establishment of molecular sieving action. The membrane containing the highest zeolite loading (30 mass %) had the highest separation selectivity (80.84) and flux (6.78 × 10−2 kg m−2 h−1) at 30°C with 5 mass % isopropyl alcohol in the feed. From the temperature dependence of the diffusion and permeation values, the Arrhenius activation parameters were estimated. A pure membrane exhibited higher activation energy values for permeability (Ep) and diffusivity (ED) than zeolite-incorporated membranes, and signified that permeation and diffusion required more energy for transport through the pure membrane because of its dense nature. Obviously, the zeolite-incorporated membranes required less energy because of their molecular sieving action, which was attributed to the presence of straight and sinusoidal channels in the framework of the zeolite. For the zeolite-incorporated membranes, the activation energy values obtained for isopropyl alcohol permeation were significantly lower than the water permeation values, and this suggested that the zeolite-incorporated membranes had higher selectivity toward isopropyl alcohol. The Ep and ED values ranged between 21.81 and 31.12 kJ/mol and between 15.27 and 41.49 kJ/mol, respectively. All the zeolite-incorporated membranes exhibited positive values of the heat of sorption, and this suggested that the heat of sorption was dominated by Henry's mode of sorption. sorption. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 96: 1377–1387, 2005