Synthesis and Characterization of Nanoporous Copolymers with Potential Gas Storage Applications

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Virginia Tech


Nanoporous organic polymers, including hypercrosslinked polymers (HCPs), covalent organic frameworks (COFs), polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs), and conjugated microporous polymers (CMPs) etc., are considered good candidates for potential gas storage and gas separation applications.

Porosities and surface areas of a series of semirigid alternating copolymers, which contained tert-butyl carboxylate-functionalized stilbene or tert-butyl carboxylate-functionalized styrene, and maleic anhydride or tert-butyl carboxylate-functionalized phenyl maleimide, were investigated using nitrogen sorption/desorption isotherms at 77 K and molecular simulations. These alternating copolymers were found to have Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) surface areas in the range of 20-40 m2/g. Surface areas of these alternating copolymers increased as the steric crowding of the polymer backbone increased, which was the result of introducing extra phenyl rings and/or N-phenyl substituent maleimide units. Surface areas were found to increase as the persistence length increased.

A series of HCPs containing functionalized stilbene and N-substituted phenyl maleimide were synthesized via free radical suspension polymerization. The incorporation of these functionalized, chain stiffening, Tg enhancing comonomers raised the Tgs of precursor polymers before they were crosslinked. Surface areas of these HCPs, obtained from nitrogen adsorption/desorption isotherms at 77 K, were up to 1058 m2/g. However, the surface areas of these HCPs were systematically lower than the controls. The high rigidity of the polymer backbone, which was the result of incorporating Tg enhancing comonomer, likely affected the chain mobility of the precursor polymer, decreased the efficiency of post-crosslinking reactions, and thus resulted in lower surface areas.

Amine-functionalized styrene/stilbene polymers were prepared via free radical polymerization or post-modification. Amine-containing silica-based sorbents were prepared using the impregnation method. Sorption of CO2 by these materials was tested using TGA and compared with control samples. Both high amine content and certain levels of surface area were found to be important for a sorbent to achieve high CO2 uptake. Highest CO2 uptake (12 wt%) under our testing condition in these materials was achieved by an amine-containing silica sorbent.



nanoporous polymer, semirigid alternating copolymer, gas sorption, surface area, functionalized stilbene, functionalized maleimide, hypercrosslinked polymer, suspension polymerization, free radical polymerization, mesoporous silica, CO2 capture