Permeation of various gases (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, nitrogen, oxygen, argon, krypton, neon) and their equimolar mixtures through DD3R membranes have been investigated over a temperature range of 220–373 K and a feed pressure of 101–400 kPa. Helium was used as sweep gas at atmospheric pressure. Adsorption isotherms were determined in the temperature range 195–298 K, and modelled by a single and dual site Langmuir model. The permeation flux is determined by the size of the molecule relative to the window opening of DD3R, and its adsorption behaviour. As a function of temperature, bulky molecules (methane) show activated permeation, weakly adsorbing molecules decreasing permeation behaviour and strongly adsorbing molecules pass through a maximum. Counter diffusion of the sweep gas (helium) ranged from almost zero up to the order of the feed gas permeation and was strongly influenced by the adsorption of the feed gas.
DD3R membranes have excellent separation performance for carbon dioxide/methane mixtures (selectivity 100–3000), exhibit good selectivity for nitrogen/methane (20–45), carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide/air (20–400), and air/krypton (5–10) and only a modest selectivity for oxygen/nitrogen (∼2) separation. The selectivity of mixtures of a strongly and a weakly adsorbing component decreased with increasing temperature and pressure. The selectivity of mixtures of weakly adsorbing components was independent of pressure.
The permeation and separation characteristics of light gases through DD3R membranes can be explained by taking into account: (1) steric effects introduced by the window opening of DD3R leading to molecular sieving and activated transport, (2) competitive adsorption effects, as observed for mixtures involving strongly adsorbing gases, and (3) interaction between diffusing molecules in the cages of the zeolite.