Silica-based membranes show both robust properties and high-permeability, offering us great potential for applying them to harsh conditions where conventional organic membranes cannot work. Despite the increasing number of paper and patents of silica-based membranes, their industrial applications have yet to be fully realized, possibly due to their lack of technologies on scaling-up and mass production. In particular, quality of membrane supports decisively impacts final quality of silica-based separation membranes. In this study, therefore, we have developed mass producing technologies of nano-porous supports (φ 12 mm, length 400 mm) with surface center pore size distribution of 1-10 nm, which are generally used as supports for preparing separation membranes with a pore size of less than 1 nm. The developed mass production apparatuses have enabled us to reproducibly produce nano-porous silica-based supports with high permeance (e.g., N2 permeance of more than 10-5 mol m-2 s-1·Pa-1) minimizing effects of membrane defects less than 0.1% of the total flux. The developed nano-porous supports have enabled us to reproducibly produce silica-based separation membranes with high permeace and selectivity (e.g., H2 permeance of about 5 × 10-6 mol m-2 s-1 Pa-1 and H2/SF6 permeance ratio of more than 2000).
Keywords: gas separation; molecular sieve; pore size control.