Substituted polynorbornene membranes: a modular template for targeted gas separations†
Polynorbornenes are ideal materials for systematic structure–property investigations designed to correlate gas-transport properties to polymer structure. The modular nature of norbornene-based systems provides a facile route towards the synthesis of diverse polymeric materials. Though many valuable correlations between gas-permeability and polynorbornene structure have been summarized in a prior review (2017), many of these efforts focused heavily on the design of materials with high permeabilities. More recently, the design of next-generation polynorbornene membranes has shifted toward the development of materials that are highly selective for multiple targeted gas separations. Since 2017, tremendous progress has been realized in the preparation of stable and highly selective polynorbornenes for membrane-based gas separations. Examples include polynorbornene derivatives that exhibit very high selectivity for CO2/N2 and light hydrocarbon (e.g., C3+/C1) separations, some of which exhibit gas separation performances that approach or exceed the 2008 upper bound. Herein, we summarize prior findings, present recent developments in the field of advanced polynorbornene membrane materials for targeted gas separations, and provide an outlook for the future of this field of research.