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Sol-gel derived mesoporous and microporous alumina membranes
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Stable polymeric and colloidal boehmite sols were prepared by sol-gel process through controlled hydrolysis/condensation reactions. The particle sizes of the colloidal sols were in the 12-25 nm range depending on the process parameters and about 2 nm for polymeric sols. The presence of a significant increase in the microporosity content of the heat treated polymeric membranes relative to the mesoporous colloidal membranes might make the design of thermally stable microporous alumina membranes with controlled pore structures possible. The phase structure evolution in the 600-800 °C range had shown that the crystallization of the gamma alumina in the amorphous matrix starts at about 800 °C. This indicated that the pore structure stability may be enhanced through processing up to this relatively high temperature in polymeric alumina derived unsupported membranes. The permeance values of the two and three layered colloidal alumina membranes were observed to be independent of pressure which implies that the dominant gas transport mechanism is Knudsen diffusion in these structures. This was also supported by the 2.8 nm BJH pore sizes of the colloidal membranes. The Knudsen diffusion equation derived permeances of the polymeric alumina membranes with thicknesses of about 300 nm were determined to be very close to the experimentally determined permeance values. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.