Separation of xylene isomer vapors with oriented MFI membranes made by seeded growth

G. Xomeritakis, Z. Lai, M. Tsapatsis

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232 Scopus citations


Oriented MFI membranes made by secondary growth on the surface of α-Al2O3 support disks have been evaluated for the separation of xylene isomers vapors in the temperature range 22-275°C and feed partial pressures up to approx. 0.7-0.9 kPa. It is found that the separation performance of these membranes is directly related to the synthesis conditions and the resulting membrane microstructure. Thick (12-18 μm) and c-oriented membranes (type A membranes) made by 24-h growth at 175°C exhibit single-component p-xylene/o-xylene permselectivity as high as 150 at 100°C but very modest separation factors (usually <5) are obtained with binary feed mixtures, a result of a drastic increase in the flux of o-xylene in the presence of p-xylene. Thin (2-3 μm) and (h0h)-oriented membranes (type B membranes) made by 120-h growth at 90°C exhibit comparable single-component and binary permeation behavior but suffer from lower selectivities/separation factors (up to 12) as a result of cracks formed after calcination for template removal. It is found that the addition of n-hexane in a binary p-xylene/o-xylene feed in the case of type A membranes or the dip-coating of type B membranes with a surfactant-templated silica sol results in a considerable improvement of mixture separation factors up to 60 or 30-300, respectively. This improvement is attributed to preferrential adsorption of n-hexane in nonzeolitic micropores/grain boundaries in the case of type A membranes or to selective sealing of cracks by mesostructured silica in the case of type B membranes. Both type A and type B membranes exhibit, at 100-125°C, p-xylene permeance [(2-5) × 10-8 mol m-2 s-1 Pa-1] and p-xylene/o-xylene separation factors (60-300) that are comparable to or higher than the values reported for other MFI membranes in the literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-552
Number of pages9
JournalIndustrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


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