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Keywords:

  • adsorption;
  • carbon dioxide;
  • membranes;
  • niobium;
  • silicon

Abstract

A sol–gel-derived microporous ceramic membrane with an exceptionally low permeability for CO2 from gaseous streams was developed and characterized. The sols were prepared from a mixture of niobium and silicon alkoxide precursors by acid-catalyzed synthesis. Microporous films were formed by coating asymmetric γ-alumina disks with the polymeric sol (Si/Nb=3:1), followed by calcination at 500 °C. The membrane consists of a 150-nm-thick layer with a Si/Nb atomic ratio of about 1.5. The single-gas permeance of small gas molecules such as H2, CH4, N2, and SF6 decreases steadily with kinetic diameter. Hydrogen, helium, and carbon dioxide follow an activated transport mechanism through the membrane. The permeance of CO2 in this membrane is much lower than that in pure silica, and its behavior deviates strongly from the general trend observed with the other gases. This is attributed to a relatively strong interaction between CO2 and adsorption sites in the niobia–silica membrane.