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Preparation and characterization of polymer-zeolite composite membranes
This thesis is on the investigation of polymer-zeolite composite membranes for gas separation and the effects of a number of parameters such as solvent and zeolite type, zeolite content, polymer/solvent ratio and preparation temperature on the microstructure of the final membrane. Although there is an increasing interest in polymeric composite membranes, most of the previous work concentrated on the synthesis and performance measurements of new membrane materials rather than the effects of different methods and parameters on processmg.In this study polymer-zeolite composite membranes were prepared by a phase inversion technique. Polysulfone, natural zeolite and synthetic zeolite 13X were used as polymer and second phases respectively. Dichloromethane and dimethylformamide were used as solvents. Four experimental sets of membranes containing the same polymer but different solvents and zeolites with increasing zeolite loadings were prepared and characterized by thermo gravimetric analysis, infrared spectroscopy, optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy.It has been found that the types of the solvent and zeolite directly affect the final microstructure of the membranes. Solvent removal rate and distribution of zeolite particles are important and have strong effects on the mechanical performance of the membranes.Membranes prepared by using synthetic zeolite 13X and dichloromethane were determined to be the best zeolite distributions in the microstructure by optical microscopy and thermogravimetric analysis. Uniform and mechanically strong membranes with 20-60 % synthetic zeolite contents were prepared. Mechanically weak and relatively nonuniform membranes were prepared by using natural zeolite clinoptilolite. The incorporation of an ultrasonic treatment of the zeolite dispersion most likely contributed in the successful deagglomeration of the second phase in the polymer matrix.