Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Pearls to Prevent Relaxation


Additive stops aging in super glassy polymer membranes

Putting a stop to aging has now been made possible for highly porous polymer membranes whose efficiency in the separation of gases falls off fast when parts of their polymer chains rearrange, as so do their pores.

In the journal Angewandte Chemie , a team of Australian and American researchers has now introduced a method for preventing this relaxation of the polymer chains: special porous particles made of an aromatic framework incorporate the polymer chains and hold them in their original position.

Separation processes like purification and adsorption are especially energy-intensive procedures; it is thus correspondingly important to find alternatives to replace existing technologies.

One possible approach is gas separation using polymer membranes. The theory behind this separation technique is that different gases pass through the membrane at different rates. This allows for the separation of CO2 from nitrogen, for example, which is relevant for carbon capture from flue gases. Currently, liquid absorbents that operate in a batch rather than continuous process are typically used.

The polymer membranes used must be extremely porous, so that as much of the surface area as possible is accessible to the gas molecules. It is no problem to produce highly porous membranes by using the appropriate “molds”.

However, any celebration of the high separation performance of these super glassy membranes, as they are known, does not last long as the membranes “age”. Despite the rigid state of the polymer, individual polymer segments are not fully “frozen” into position but can move to some extent. For thermodynamic reasons, the polymer chains attempt to stay as evenly distributed as possible.

This also causes them to fill the empty space within the pores. Because of their residual mobility, the polymer chains “relax” little by little, slowly reducing the free volume of the pores. The separation performance of the membrane falls off correspondingly. It has not previously been possible to effectively halt this process.

Led by Matthew R. Hill and Richard D. Noble, a team from the Division of Materials Science and Engineering at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the University of Colorado (USA) has now developed a method that prevents aging of super glassy membranes.

The trick is to include a specific additive during production of the membranes. The additive consists of porous microparticles made of a special three-dimensional framework of aromatic compounds and carbon atoms. The microparticles are strung along the particle chains like pearls on a string. This causes the chains to be “frozen” in place.

The pores remain as open as they were when first manufactured and the membrane does not age. As a side effect, the porous aromatic microparticles improve the ability of the membranes to separate nitrogen and carbon dioxide up to three-fold.

About the Author

Dr. Matthew Hill is a senior research scientist with the CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency. He specialises in ultraporous materials with applications in separation, storage and triggered release. He is a 2014 awardee of the MIT Technology Teview ‘Innovators under 35’ award for the South-East Asia region.

Author: Matthew R. Hill, CSIRO Division of Materials Science and Engineering, Clayton South (Australia),

Title: Ending Aging in Super Glassy Polymer Membranes

Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article:

Dr. Matthew Hill | Angewandte Chemie
Further information:

Further reports about: Aging Engineering Membranes Polymer Relaxation Super compounds volume

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Understanding a missing link in how antidepressants work
25.11.2015 | Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, München

nachricht Plant Defense as a Biotech Tool
25.11.2015 | Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (ACIB)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

Im Focus: Climate Change: Warm water is mixing up life in the Arctic

AWI researchers’ unique 15-year observation series reveals how sensitive marine ecosystems in polar regions are to change

The warming of arctic waters in the wake of climate change is likely to produce radical changes in the marine habitats of the High North. This is indicated by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Harnessing a peptide holds promise for increasing crop yields without more fertilizer

25.11.2015 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Earth's magnetic field is not about to flip

25.11.2015 | Earth Sciences

Tracking down the 'missing' carbon from the Martian atmosphere

25.11.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>