Polymers of intrinsic microporosity containing aryl-phthalimide moieties: synthesis, modeling, and membrane gas transport properties

FE Rodríguez-González and C Soto and L Palacio and AL Montero-Alejo and N Escalona and E Schott and B Comesaña-Gándara and CA Terraza and A Tundidor-Camba, POLYMER CHEMISTRY, 14, 2363-2373 (2023).

DOI: 10.1039/d2py01584f

High-performance polymers for membrane gas separation require the careful design of the structure-porous relationship. In this work, five phthalimide-based polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs) were obtained via the double nucleophilic aromatic substitution with the commercially available 5,5',6,6'-tetrahydroxy-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylspirobisindane (TTSBI) monomer. The phthalimide monomers were synthesized considering different sizes and positions of the alkyl-substituents to evaluate their influence on the physical properties of the polymers and their potential use as gas separation membranes. Four polymers were soluble in the low- boiling solvents chloroform and tetrahydrofuran, facilitating the casting of self-standing films to evaluate their gas separation properties. The thermally stable membranes showed 5% weight lost between 537 ? and 549 ?. As powders, these four polymers showed apparent BET surface areas ranging from 434 to 661 m(2) g(-1). The experimental BET surface areas correlated with those obtained by molecular simulation models of the synthesized polymers. A linear function is proposed as a tool to predict, with a known uncertainty, the surface area values of this type of polymer from the corresponding computational models. As a trend, increasing the volume of the ortho-substituent in the aryl- phthalimide group increases the permeability of the membranes, reaching generally better performances than Matrimid (R) and close to those of PIM-1, considering their place on the Robeson diagrams of the O-2/N-2, CO2/CH4 and CO2/N-2 gas pairs. Aging studies between 63 and 122 days showed a decrease in permeability, accompanied by the typical increase in selectivity that tends to move the data parallel to the upper Robeson limits.

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