Environmental science & technology

Effect of acid-catalyzed formation rates of benzimidazole-linked polymers on porosity and selective CO2 capture from gas mixtures.

PMID 25730399


Benzimidazole-linked polymers (BILPs) are emerging candidates for gas storage and separation applications; however, their current synthetic methods offer limited control over textural properties which are vital for their multifaceted use. In this study, we investigate the impact of acid-catalyzed formation rates of the imidazole units on the porosity levels of BILPs and subsequent effects on CO2 and CH4 binding affinities and selective uptake of CO2 over CH4 and N2. Treatment of 3,3'-Diaminobenzidine tetrahydrochloride hydrate with 1,2,4,5-tetrakis(4-formylphenyl)benzene and 1,3,5-(4-formylphenyl)-benzene in anhydrous DMF afforded porous BILP-15 (448 m(2) g(-1)) and BILP-16 (435 m(2) g(-1)), respectively. Alternatively, the same polymers were prepared from the neutral 3,3'-Diaminobenzidine and catalytic amounts of aqueous HCl. The resulting polymers denoted BILP-15(AC) and BILP-16(AC) exhibited optimal surface areas; 862 m(2) g(-1) and 643 m(2) g(-1), respectively, only when 2 equiv of HCl (0.22 M) was used. In contrast, the CO2 binding affinity (Qst) dropped from 33.0 to 28.9 kJ mol(-1) for BILP-15 and from 32.0 to 31.6 kJ mol(-1) for BILP-16. According to initial slope calculations at 273 K/298 K, a notable change in CO2/N2 selectivity was observed for BILP-15(AC) (61/50) compared to BILP-15 (83/63). Similarly, ideal adsorbed solution theory (IAST) calculations also show the higher specific surface area of BILP-15(AC) and BILP-16(AC) compromises their CO2/N2 selectivity.