In the field of gas separation and purification, membrane technologies compete with conventional purification processes on the basis of technical, economic and environmental factors. In this context, there is a growing interest in the development of carbon molecular sieve membranes (CMSM) due to their higher permeability and selectivity and higher stability in corrosive and high temperature environments. However, the industrial use of CMSM has been thus far hindered mostly by their relative instability in the presence of water vapor, present in a large number of process streams, as well as by the high cost of polymeric precursors such as polyimide. In this context, cellulosic precursors appear as very promising alternatives, especially targeting the production of CMSM for the separation of O2
. For these two gas separations, cellulose-based CMSM have demonstrated performances well above the Robeson upper bound and above the performance of CMSM based on other polymeric precursors. Furthermore, cellulose is an inexpensive bio-renewable feed-stock highly abundant on Earth. This article reviews the major fabrication aspects of cellulose-based CMSM. Additionally, this article suggests a new tool to characterize the membrane performance, the Robeson Index. The Robeson Index, θ, is the ratio between the actual selectivity at the Robeson plot and the corresponding selectivity—for the same permeability—of the Robeson upper bound; the Robeson Index measures how far the actual point is from the upper bound.
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