Hydrogen Permeation Properties and Hydrothermal Stability of Sol–Gel-Derived Amorphous Silica Membranes Fabricated at High Temperatures

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Abstract

The sol–gel method was applied to the fabrication of amorphous silica membranes for use in hydrogen separation at high temperatures. The effects of fabrication temperature on the hydrogen permeation properties and the hydrothermal stability of amorphous silica membranes were evaluated. A thin continuous silica separation layer (thickness = <300 nm) was successfully formed on the top of a deposited colloidal silica layer in a porous glass support. After heat treatment at 800°C for an amorphous silica membrane fabricated at 550°C, however, it was quite difficult to distinguish the active separation layer from the deposited colloidal silica layer in a porous glass support, due to the adhesion of colloidal silica caused by sintering at high temperatures. The amorphous silica membranes fabricated at 700°C were relatively stable under steam atmosphere (500°C, steam = 70 kPa), and showed steady He and H2 permeance values of 4.0 × 10−7 and 1.0 × 10−7 mol·m−2·s−1·Pa−1 with H2/CH4 and H2/H2O permeance ratios of ~110 and 22, respectively. The permeance ratios of H2/H2O for membranes fired at 700°C increased drastically over the range of He/H2 permeance ratios by factors of ~3–4, and showed a value of ~30, which was higher than those fired at 500°C. Less permeation of water vapor through amorphous silica membranes fabricated at high temperatures can be ascribed to the dense amorphous silica structure caused by the condensation reaction of silanol groups.

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