Membrane gas separation – Polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs)



Innovative polymer membrane materials and technology have been developed, which can be used to selectively separate mixed gases (such as O2/N2, CO2/N2, CO2/CH4, H2/CH4 and H2/N2). The polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs) that have been made exhibit high permeability and mid-range selectivity compared to other commercially available PIMs. They can be used as part of low-energy and low-cost gas-capture methods (e.g. to separate and capture CO2 which is anticipated to become a multi-billion dollar market). The technology can also be used to enrich combustion air and syngas for more efficient energy-use applications. The use of such materials falls within the US Department of Energy CO2 capture cost targets and the costs of use compare well with commercially available membranes.

An opportunity exists to license this clean energy technology to industry in order to reduce polluting gas emissions arising from natural resource processing and industrial manufacturing, to provide air quality solutions in buildings and/or optimize gas conditions in controlled environments.

Technology transfer

This technology is available for licensing, or for further development through a collaborative research agreement with NRC. The business opportunity may be referred to by its NRC IDs: 12080, 12139, 12190, and 12178

Market applications

The market for gas separation and enrichment is diverse and includes applications in:

  • chemical industry
  • power generation stations
  • oil & gas refineries
  • wastewater treatment
  • semiconductor, steel, automotive and cement plants

How it works

The market for gas separation is driven by a wide range of end-users: the chemical industry, power generation stations, oil & gas refineries, wastewater treatment and semiconductor, steel, automotive and cement plants. Government policies to reduce air pollution and control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, together with health & safety regulations, are expected to become increasingly important drivers.

A class of ladder-type polydibenzodioxanes, referred to as polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs), have been made and offer a solution to the requirements of industry and regulatory bodies. The structure of the main chain provides significant advantages such as good processing capabilities, a broader range of physical properties, high permeability and moderate selectivity for membrane gas separation and gas enrichment. Compared to conventional gas separation polymers, a key characteristic of these polymers is that they simultaneously display both very high gas permeability and good selectivity, contrary to the normal trade-off behavior of many traditional thermoplastic polymers. The "super permeable" properties of this material have the potential to dramatically reduce the capital and operating costs of gas separations. There are four key PIMs technologies being offered for technology transfer:

  1. Ladder polymers with intrinsic microporosity
  2. Carboxylated polymers of intrinsic microporosity with tunable gas transport properties
  3. Polymers of intrinsic microporosity containing tetrazole groups
  4. Cross-linked polymers from polymers of intrinsic microporosity

A number of gas pair separations have been experimentally demonstrated, including some pilot scale manufacturing and performance validation.


  • NRC's experience with pilot-scale manufacturing
  • PIMs technology with high permeability and moderate selectivity


NRC file #12080:

NRC file #12139:

NRC file #12178:

  • Cross-linked polymers for membrane performance when exposed to plasticizing gas feeds - trade secret; non-disclosure agreement required

NRC file #12190:

Contact us

To inquire about this technology, please contact:

Dann Chow, Business Advisor
Telephone: 604-221-3157