Advanced Polymeric Membranes and Multi-Layered Films for Gas Separation and Capacitors

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Virginia Tech

The following studies describe the synthesis and properties of a family of poly(arylene ether ketone)s which are well known to have good thermal stability, mechanical durability, and other film properties. These poly(arylene ether ketone)s were functionalized with fluorine, oxidized, blended, and crosslinked to increase performance with focus on materials for polymeric capacitors and gas separation membranes.

There is a need for polymeric capacitors with improved energy storage density and thermal stability. In this work, the affect of polymer molecular structure and symmetry on Tg, breakdown strength, and relative permittivity was investigated. A systematic series of four amorphous poly(arylene ether ketone)s was compared. Two of the polymers had symmetric bisphenols while the remaining two had asymmetric bisphenols. Two contained trifluoromethyl groups while the other two had methyl groups. The symmetric polymers had Tg's of approximately 160 °C while the asymmetric polymers showed higher Tg's near 180 °C. The symmetric polymers had breakdown strengths near 380 kV/mm at 150 °C. The asymmetric counterparts had breakdown strengths near 520 kV/mm even at 175 °C, with the fluorinated polymers performing slightly better in both cases. The non-fluorinated polymers had higher relative permittivities than the fluorinated materials, with the asymmetric polymers being better in both cases.

Two amorphous, high glass transition, crosslinkable poly(arylene ether)s for gas purification membranes have been studied. The polymers were polymerized via step growth and contained tetramethyl bisphenol F and either 4,4'-difluorobenzophenone or 4,4'-dichlorodiphenylsulfone. The benzylic methylene group in tetramethyl bisphenol F can undergo oxidation reactions and crosslinking with UV light. The polymers were oxidized under two different conditions, one by chemical treatment using oxone and KBr and one by elevated thermal treatment in air. Thermogravimetric analysis, 1H-NMR and attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy revealed the progress of the thermal oxidation reactions. Both polymers produced tough, ductile films and gas transport properties of the non-crosslinked linear polymers and crosslinked polymer was compared. Crosslinking was performed by irradiating polymer films for one hour on each side in air under a 100W high intensity, long-wave UV lamp equipped with a 365-nm light filter. The O2 permeability of tetramethyl bisphenol F containing non-crosslinked poly(arylene ether ketone) was 2.8 Barrer, with an O2/N2 selectivity of 5.4. Following UV crosslinking, the O2 permeability decreased to 1.8 Barrer, and the O2/N2 selectivity increased to 6.2.

Poly(2,6-dimethyl-1,4-phenylene oxide) (PPO) is a commercial polymer that is utilized for gas separation membranes. It has a relatively high free volume with high gas permeabilities but suffers from low gas selectivities. In this study, PPO polymers with number average molecular weights of 2000, 6000, 17,000, 19,000 and 22,000 were synthesized and blended with a poly(arylene ether ketone) synthesized from bisphenol A and difluorobenzophenone (BPA-PAEK) to make UV-crosslinkable films. The ketone and benzylic methylene groups on the BPA-PAEK and the PPO polymers respectively formed crosslinks upon exposure to broad wavelength UV light. The crosslinked blends had increased selectivities over their linear counterparts. DSC thermograms showed that the blends with all but the lowest molecular weight PPO had two Tg's, thus suggesting that two phases were present, one high in PBA-PAEK and the other high in PPO composition. The PBA-PAEK blend with the 2000 Mn PPO showed only one Tg between the two control polymers. Despite the immiscibility of these films, the gel fractions after UV exposure were high. Gel fractions as a function of the amount of the 22,000 Mn PPO were explored and did not show any significant change. UV spectroscopy of the individual components and the blends showed that more broad wavelength light was transmitted through the PPO component, so it was reasoned that films that was high in PPO composition crosslinked to deeper depths. The O2/N2 permeabilities and selectivities were measured for the linear and crosslinked films. Between the 33/67, 67/33, and 90/10 22k PPO/BPA PAEK crosslinked blended films, the 90/10 PPO/BPA PAEK gained the most selectivity and maintained a larger amount of its permeability. In comparison to commercial gas separation polymers, the non-crosslinked 33/67 22,000 Mn PPO/BPA PAEK blend outperformed polysulfone and cellulose acetate with a 2.45 degree of acetylation. Overall, we were able to blend a small amount of BPA PAEK with the commercially used PPO to create a mechanically robust crosslinked polymer film.

Fluorinated Dielectric Materials, Microlayer Coextrusion, Poly(Arylene Ether Ketone)s, Gas Separation, PPO, Poly(dimethyl phenylene oxide)