Alkane separation using nanoporous graphene membranes
We studied the permeability of graphene sheets with designed nanopores using the classical molecular dynamics. To characterize the energy profile for transmission we calculated the potential of the mean force. A high selectivity for methane + butane mixture with the hydrogen-passivated pore diameter of 0.32 nm was found where the volume exclusion mechanism governs the separation process. In the case of a slightly larger pore diameter of 0.64 nm the same alkane mixture separates completely unexpectedly: a larger butane molecule permeates much faster than a small methane one. The blocking effect of the permeation path by a larger mixture component when it worked like a cork was also observed. This is a promising perspective for using graphene to design intelligent membranes which can maintain a constant composition of mixtures in the permeable area.