Microporous molecular sieve catalysts and adsorbents discriminate molecules on the basis of size and shape. Interest in molecular sieve films stems from their potential for energy-efficient membrane separations. However, grain boundary defects, formed in response to stresses induced by heat treatment, compromise their selectivity by creating nonselective transport pathways for permeating molecules. We show that rapid thermal processing can improve the separation performance of thick columnar films of a certain zeolite (silicalite-1) by eliminating grain boundary defects, possibly by strengthening grain bonding at the grain boundaries. This methodology enables the preparation of silicalite-1 membranes with high separation performance for aromatic and linear versus branched hydrocarbon isomers and holds promise for realizing high-throughput and scalable production of these zeolite membranes with improved energy efficiency.
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