Ultrathin layered Pd/PBI–HFA composite membranes for hydrogen separation

Seong Young Kong, Da Hye Kim, Dirk Henkensmeier, Hyoung Juhn Kim, Hyung Chul Ham, Jonghee Han, Sung Pil Yoon, Chang Won Yoon, Sun Hee Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Generally, Pd membranes used for H2purification are deposited on porous stainless steel (SS) or porous ceramics. These membranes are thick ( > 5 μm) because of the large pore size of the support used; hence, such thick membranes are not cost-effective. In this study, cost-effective, viable ultrathin Pd membranes, which were deposited on a polymer substrate, e.g., polybenzimidazole-4,4′-(hexafluoroisopropylidene)bis(benzoic acid) (PBI–HFA), with a thickness less than 700 nm, were prepared by vacuum electroless plating (VELP). The estimated thickness and effective permeation area of the Pd/PBI–HFA membranes were 130–656 nm and 8.3 cm2, respectively. An optimum Pd/PBI–HFA membrane was deposited after two times activation (A2). Because of the adequate grain size of Pd crystals and thickness, Pd/PBI–HFA exhibited better hydrogen permselectivity than the samples prepared by one and three times activation. Furthermore, the polymer surface treated by the CO2plasma (CO2) and oxidation by H2O2(H) leads to the enhanced selectivity performance of the final Pd/PBI–HFA membrane, caused by the enhanced adhesion between Pd and PBI–HFA. Gas permeation properties of H2, N2, CO2, and CO were evaluated between 35 and 200 °C and pressure differences between 4 and 8 bar. Pd films fabricated by A2-CO2methods exhibited superior performance, as well as excellent αH2/N2 and αH2/CO2 permselectivities of 41.4 and 22.3, respectively, at 150 °C and 8 bar, and proved to be impermeable to carbon monoxide (CO). It is a 48% increase in the αH2/N2 permselectivity and fourfold increase in the αH2/CO2 permselectivity from bare PBI-HFA membrane. In this study, an effective Pd layer was deposited on PBI–HFA under optimum Pd electroless plating conditions by controlling the interface adhesion strength and distribution of Pd seeds on the substrate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-493
Number of pages8
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Activation
  • Hydrogen separation
  • Pd membrane
  • Polybenzimidazole
  • Vacuum electroless plating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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