Hydrogen-selective silica membranes were prepared on a macroporous alumina support by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) of vinyltriethoxysilane (VTES) at 873 K at atmospheric pressure. The membrane had a high H2 permeance of 5.4 × 10−7 mol m−2 s−1 Pa−1 with H2 selectivity over CO2, N2, CO and CH4 of 95, 170, 170 and 480, respectively. In situ Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) measurements after CVD on an alumina disk at the same conditions as for the membrane preparation showed that the vinyl groups remained in the silica structure. The VTES-derived membrane had higher hydrothermal stability than a pure tetraethoxyorthosilicate (TEOS)-derived silica membrane, during exposure to 16 mol% water vapor at 872 K for 72 h. The temperature dependence of the permeance of various molecules (He, Ne, H2, CO2, N2, CO, CH4) before and after hydrothermal treatment gave information about the mechanism of permeance and the structure of the membrane. The membrane was composed of a contiguous silica network through which small species permeated by a solid-state mechanism and a small number of pores through which the large molecules diffused. The silica-based structure became more compact after hydrothermal treatment with decreasing permeance of small molecules (He, Ne, H2), while small pores were enlarged increasing permeance of large molecules (CO2, N2, CO, CH4). Calculation results for the small species based on a mechanism involving jumps of the permeating species between solubility sites showed lower activation energy and larger jump distances than those of a TEOS-derived silica membrane. The retention of the vinyl groups in the structure mostly associated with the defect pores resulted in interactions with CH4 and CO2, so that these species permeated by a surface diffusion mechanism.
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