Gas Separation Membranes From Polymer-Grafted Nanoparticles


Reference #: 01418

The University of South Carolina is offering licensing opportunities for Gas Separation Membranes from Polymer-grafted Nanoparticles


Polymeric membranes are critical to many sustainability applications that separate gas mixtures based on size differences. Polymer blends using polymer grafted nanoparticles with small amounts (less than approximately 10%) of free polymer are used as membranes for gas separation.The challenge is primarily the need to selectively affect the transport of different mixture components while enhancing the membrane’s strength and aging behavior. Polymer-grafted nanoparticles are a novel platform with unprecedented gas separation and mechanical performance. Pure polymer-grafted nanoparticles can show upwards of an order of magnitude increase in gas permeability relative to the pure polymers. This is attributed to the compromise between the grafted chains filling space and the reduced ability of adjacent brushes to interpenetrate. The nanoparticles thus self-assemble into a jammed state during membrane preparation, providing increased polymer molar volume which leads to higher permeability. 

Invention Description:

This invention proposes grafting nanoparticles that have superior gas separation and mechanical performance. These nanoparticles show unusually high performance compared to normal membranes- both selectivity and permeability can be greatly enhanced. This effect is achieved by adding free chains.While short added chains are present throughout the composite and reduce the permeability of all gases, long chains preferentially segregate into interstices between the NPs where they preferentially hinder large solute motion. Extraordinary selectivities result when the free chain length is comparable to the graft size. Manipulating the physics of these soft colloids is thus a novel means of dramatically improving membrane performance even with ubiquitous polymers.

Potential Applications:

Polymeric membranes are critical to many sustainability applications that separate gas mixtures based on size. This work demonstrates that polymer-grafted nanoparticle composites represent a novel, easily-realizable platform for next-generation gas separation membranes with unprecedented performance metrics.

Advantages and Benefits:

This invention offers better separations, higher efficiency, and large cost savings over currently-available technology. While most research to date has shown that separation based on size difference is common in polymeric membranes, we have found a facile means to selectively control the transport of different components of a gas mixture through the addition of free polymer. 


Patent Information:
Title App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Expire Date Patent Status
Gas Separation Membranes From Polymer-Grafted Nanoparticles PCT United States PCT/US20/27036   4/7/2020     Filed
Gas Separation Membranes from Polymer-Grafted Nanoparticles Nationalized PCT United States 17/617,113   12/7/2021     Filed
For Information, Contact:
Technology Commercialization
University of South Carolina
Brian Benicewicz (USC)
Yucheng Huang
Connor Bilchak
Sanat Kumar
gas separations
polymer membranes
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