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Mixed matrix formulations with MOF molecular sieving for key energy-intensive separations

A Publisher Correction to this article was published on 20 November 2018

This article has been updated


Membrane-based separations can improve energy efficiency and reduce the environmental impacts associated with traditional approaches. Nevertheless, many challenges must be overcome to design membranes that can replace conventional gas separation processes. Here, we report on the incorporation of engineered submicrometre-sized metal–organic framework (MOF) crystals into polymers to form hybrid materials that successfully translate the excellent molecular sieving properties of face-centred cubic (fcu)-MOFs into the resultant membranes. We demonstrate, simultaneously, exceptionally enhanced separation performance in hybrid membranes for two challenging and economically important applications: the removal of CO2 and H2S from natural gas and the separation of butane isomers. Notably, the membrane molecular sieving properties demonstrate that the deliberately regulated and contracted MOF pore-aperture size can discriminate between molecular pairs. The improved performance results from precise control of the linkers delimiting the triangular window, which is the sole entrance to the fcu-MOF pore. This rational-design hybrid approach provides a general toolbox for enhancing the transport properties of advanced membranes bearing molecular sieve fillers with sub-nanometre-sized pore-apertures.

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Fig. 1: Design and fabrication of RE-fcu-MOF/polymer hybrid membranes.
Fig. 2: Gas permeation properties.
Fig. 3: Transport properties and RE-fcu-MOFs pore structure.
Fig. 4: Mixed-gas separation performance.

Change history

  • 20 November 2018

    In the version of this Article originally published, the units of the y axis of Fig. 3b were incorrectly given as ‘106 cm2 s–1’; they should have been ‘10–8 cm2 s–1’. This has been corrected in the online versions of the Article.


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The research reported in this publication was supported by KAUST CRG Research Grant URF/1/2222-01; Y.B., O.S. and M.E. acknowledge support from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology; G.L. acknowledges support from National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos.: 21490585, 21776125, 21406107).

Author information




G.L. fabricated the hybrid mixed-matrix membranes and performed the adsorption and permeation tests. V.C., O.S. and Y.B. carried out the synthesis and scale-up of the MOFs. G.L., W.J.K., M.E. and Y.B. interpreted the adsorption and permeation data. K.Z., G.L., O.S. and V.C. developed the cryo-grinding/sedimentation method. K.Z. and G.L. fabricated the hybrid hollow fibre composite membranes. C.Z. guided the Maxwell prediction and diffusivity calculations. S.Y. guided the H2S sorption and permeation. W.J.K. and M.E conceived, designed and guided the whole project. G.L., Y.L., W.J.K., Y.B. and M.E. discussed the findings in this paper. G.L., Y.B. M.E. and W.J.K. coordinated the writing of the paper, and all authors contributed to revising the paper.

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Correspondence to Mohamed Eddaoudi or William J. Koros.

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Supplementary Figures 1–29, Supplementary Schematic 1–4, Supplementary Tables 1–2, Supplementary References 1–7

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Liu, G., Chernikova, V., Liu, Y. et al. Mixed matrix formulations with MOF molecular sieving for key energy-intensive separations. Nature Mater 17, 283–289 (2018).

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