Gas transmission through microporous membranes
Type of DegreeDissertation
Polymer and Fiber Engineering
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An ideal protective clothing material should be a good barrier against harmful gases or vapor while allowing moisture vapor and air passage through the material. In the study and design of barrier materials, one of the critical issues is to balance these requirements, which may sometimes be mutually exclusive. Therefore it is critical to understand the macroscopic and microscopic structure of the attack mechanisms as well as the barrier materials and the transport phenomena in such systems. In this study, air and gas transmission through barrier systems consisting of porous membranes was investigated experimentally and a molecular-level probabilistic model was constructed to evaluate the effect of various parameters on the gas flow. The effect of membrane parameters such as porosity, pore size distribution, thickness as well as gas parameters such as molecule diameters were examined at single layer as well as multiple layers. To understand the gas behavior for harmful chemicals and to ensure safety during experimental studies, mimics of such gases were obtained which were comparable to the actual gases in shape, molecular weight and other chemical properties. Air, ammonia and several mimic gases of harmful chemical agents were studied. Beta-pinene was used as a mimic of sarin and prenol was used as a mimic of nitrogen mustard. Gas transmission experiments were conducted on polyester, nylon and polypropylene membranes each of which had different porosity and pore size distributions. Experiments were done at different pressure values and a comparison was made between permeability testing machines based on volumetric and manometric principles as to their ability to accommodate high permeability membranes. Physical and chemical adsorption of such gases on porous membranes was also investigated after the addition of active elements on the membrane surfaces which can interact with the gas molecules. An experimental setup was developed to measure concentration changes upon passage of the gas through active and non-active membranes by which way the effect of active elements on gas transmission rates could be examined. Probabilistic and mathematical models were proposed to predict gas transmission rates of such membranes and gas permeation experiments were simulated utilizing the proposed models. Modeling results were compared to experimental data and to macro-level gas transmission models available in literature. The results were found to be in acceptable correlation with experiments for membranes with a well-known morphology. The pressure of the system, porosity and adsorption capacity of the materials, as well as size of the gas molecules and their interaction energies between the surfaces were found to be important parameters which affect permeability.