• Recovery of free volume in PIM-1 membranes through alcohol vapor treatment

      Almansour, Faiz; Alberto, Monica; Bhavsar, Rupesh S.; Fan, Xiaolei; Budd, Peter M.; Gorgojo, Patricia; email: p.gorgojo@manchester.ac.uk (Higher Education Press, 2021-02-10)
      Abstract: Physical aging is currently a major obstacle for the commercialization of PIM-1 membranes for gas separation applications. A well-known approach to reversing physical aging effects of PIM-1 membranes at laboratory scale is soaking them in lower alcohols, such as methanol and ethanol. However, this procedure does not seem applicable at industrial level, and other strategies must be investigated. In this work, a regeneration method with alcohol vapors (ethanol or methanol) was developed to recover permeability of aged PIM-1 membranes, in comparison with the conventional soaking-in-liquid approach. The gas permeability and separation performance, before and post the regeneration methods, were assessed using a binary mixture of CO2 and CH4 (1:1, v:v). Our results show that an 8-hour methanol vapor treatment was sufficient to recover the original gas permeability, reaching a CO2 permeability > 7000 barrer.
    • The use of carbon nanomaterials in membrane distillation membranes: a review

      Leaper, Sebastian; Abdel-Karim, Ahmed; Gorgojo, Patricia; email: p.gorgojo@manchester.ac.uk (Higher Education Press, 2021-01-25)
      Abstract: Membrane distillation (MD) is a thermal-based separation technique with the potential to treat a wide range of water types for various applications and industries. Certain challenges remain however, which prevent it from becoming commercially widespread including moderate permeate flux, decline in separation performance over time due to pore wetting and high thermal energy requirements. Nevertheless, its attractive characteristics such as high rejection (ca. 100%) of nonvolatile species, its ability to treat highly saline solutions under low operating pressures (typically atmospheric) as well as its ability to operate at low temperatures, enabling waste-heat integration, continue to drive research interests globally. Of particular interest is the class of carbon-based nanomaterials which includes graphene and carbon nanotubes, whose wide range of properties have been exploited in an attempt to overcome the technical challenges that MD faces. These low dimensional materials exhibit properties such as high specific surface area, high strength, tuneable hydrophobicity, enhanced vapour transport, high thermal and electrical conductivity and others. Their use in MD has resulted in improved membrane performance characteristics like increased permeability and reduced fouling propensity. They have also enabled novel membrane capabilities such as in-situ fouling detection and localised heat generation. In this review we provide a brief introduction to MD and describe key membrane characteristics and fabrication methods. We then give an account of the various uses of carbon nanomaterials for MD applications, focussing on polymeric membrane systems. Future research directions based on the findings are also suggested.