Rapid fabrication of MOF-based mixed matrix membranes through digital light processing†
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing technology, has greatly expanded across multiple sectors of technology replacing classical manufacturing methods by combining processing speed and high precision. The scientific interest in this technology lies in the ability to create solid architectures with customized shapes and predetermined properties through the exploration of formulations enriched with multifunctional microporous additives such as metal–organic frameworks (MOFs). The concept of additive manufacturing involving advanced materials could be fruitfully adapted for MOF-based mixed matrix membrane fabrication to be used in gas separation applications. In this work, a digital light processing (DLP) approach for fast prototyping of MOF-based mixed matrix membranes (MOF-MMMs) with full control over the shape, size and thickness of the resulting composite using a conventionally available 3D printer has been explored. MOF-based printable inks have been formulated from a selection of commercially available acrylate oligomers and MIL-53(Al)–NH2 additive post-synthetically modified with methacrylic functionality. The formulations and resulting composites have been extensively characterized to demonstrate the suitability of the inks for DLP processing into free-standing MOF-based membranes. The MOF filler anchored to the polymeric matrix enhances the overall permeability at constant selectivity when applied for H2/CO2 separation. The obtained results confirm the applicability of the 3D DLP technology for fast prototyping of MOF-based MMMs and provide new opportunities for further development.