I-Corps: Development of Scalable Zeolitic Imidazolate Framework Membranes for Hydrocarbon Separation

Project: Research project

Project Details


I-Corps: Development of Scalable Zeolitic Imidazolate Framework Membranes for Hydrocarbon Separation I-Corps: Development of Scalable Zeolitic Imidazolate Framework Membranes for Hydrocarbon Separation Project Overview: Propylene is the 2nd largest petrochemical commodity and 5th largest produced material in the U.S. The key step in propylene production is propylene/propane separation achieved by energy intensive cryogenic distillation method. Membrane process is a more energy efficient solution to the separation problem, but propylene perm-selective polymer or inorganic membranes are not stable for this application. Recent study obtained in the PIs laboratory shows zeolitic imidazolate (ZIF) framework membranes have desired separation properties and stability for this application. The project is focused on proof-of-concept study on synthesis of ZIF membranes on malleable supports that can be scaled up and material selection and design of membrane modules with industrial application potential. The project will also a detailed market analysis for the ZIF membrane separation technology and development of a business model for a company to be set up at the end of the project to develop the technology. Intellectual Merit: The activities proposed for this project will be directed towards development of ZIF membranes that can be scaled up for industrial olefin/paraffin. ZIFs are highly tailorable with a wide range of chemical, textural, and crystalline properties that can be implemented into a number of other technological applications. This project will gain much insight into the fundamental nature of material selection for membrane supports and synthesis and properties of ZIF membranes on scaleable supports. The project will increase learning and understanding in membrane science and engineering to the academic community, while also delivering valuable information on how to transition such novel materials into useful industrial applications. Broader impacts: The commercialization of ZIF membranes will reduce energy expenditures and meet greater environmental regulations for the separation of olefins, which are precursors to many household and commercial products, influencing the general society with many economical and environmental benefits. This will spark learning in ZIF membrane technology globally where the U.S., China and the Middle East are the major manufacturers of olefins, leading to a greater understanding and awareness of the benefits of this technology. The project will also demonstrate to the public the usefulness, energetic efficiency, and environmental friendliness of membrane science and technology. Successful development of the ZIF membrane will represent first commercial application of inorganic or metal organic framework membranes for industrial applications. The success will encourage development of other new separation technologies for commercial applications.
Effective start/end date7/1/1412/31/14


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $50,000.00


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