Organic molecular sieve membranes for chemical separations
Molecular separations that enable selective transport of target molecules from gas and liquid molecular mixtures, such as CO2 capture, olefin/paraffin separations, and organic solvent nanofiltration, represent the most energy sensitive and significant demands. Membranes are favored for molecular separations owing to the advantages of energy efficiency, simplicity, scalability, and small environmental footprint. A number of emerging microporous organic materials have displayed great potential as building blocks of molecular separation membranes, which not only integrate the rigid, engineered pore structures and desirable stability of inorganic molecular sieve membranes, but also exhibit a high degree of freedom to create chemically rich combinations/sequences. To gain a deep insight into the intrinsic connections and characteristics of these microporous organic material-based membranes, in this review, for the first time, we propose the concept of organic molecular sieve membranes (OMSMs) with a focus on the precise construction of membrane structures and efficient intensification of membrane processes. The platform chemistries, designing principles, and assembly methods for the precise construction of OMSMs are elaborated. Conventional mass transport mechanisms are analyzed based on the interactions between OMSMs and penetrate(s). Particularly, the ‘STEM’ guidelines of OMSMs are highlighted to guide the precise construction of OMSM structures and efficient intensification of OMSM processes. Emerging mass transport mechanisms are elucidated inspired by the phenomena and principles of the mass transport processes in the biological realm. The representative applications of OMSMs in gas and liquid molecular mixture separations are highlighted. The major challenges and brief perspectives for the fundamental science and practical applications of OMSMs are tentatively identified.