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Carbon capture from natural gas using multi-walled CNTs based mixed matrix membranes

Hussain, Abid, Farrukh, Sarah, Hussain, Arshad, Ayoub, Muhammad
Environmental technology 2019 v.40 no.7 pp. 843-854
acetone, carbon, carbon dioxide, carbon nanotubes, cellulose acetate, environmental technology, methane, natural gas, permeability, polyethylene glycol, scanning electron microscopy, tensile strength, thermal stability, thermogravimetry
Most of the polymers and their blends, utilized in carbon capture membranes, are costly, but cellulose acetate (CA) being inexpensive is a lucrative choice. In this research, pure and mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) have been fabricated to capture carbon from natural gas. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) has been utilized in the fabrication of membranes to modify the chain flexibility of polymers. Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) provide mechanical strength, thermal stability, an extra free path for CO₂ molecules and augment CO₂/CH₄ selectivity. Membranes of pure CA, CA/PEG blend of different PEG concentrations (5%, 10%, 15%) and CA/PEG/MWCNTs blend of 10% PEG with different MWCNTs concentrations (5%, 10%, 15%) were prepared in acetone using solution casting techniques. Fabricated membranes were characterized using SEM, TGA and tensile testing. Permeation results revealed remarkable improvement in CO₂/CH₄ selectivity. In single gas experiments, CO₂/CH₄ selectivity is enhanced 8 times for pure membranes containing 10% PEG and 14 times for MMMs containing 10% MWCNTs. In mix gas experiments, the CO₂/CH₄ selectivity is increased 13 times for 10% PEG and 18 times for MMMs with 10% MWCNTs. Fabricated MMMs have a tensile strength of 13 MPa and are more thermally stable than CA membranes.