Despite much progress in the development of mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) for many advanced applications, the synthesis of MMMs without particle agglomeration or phase separation at high nanofiller loadings is still challenging. In this work, we synthesized nanoporous zeolitic imidazole framework (ZIF-8) nanoparticles with a particle size of 60 nm and a pore size of 0.34 nm in water and directly added them into an aqueous solution of the organic polymer poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) without an intermediate drying process. This approach led to a high-quality PVA/ZIF-8 MMM with enhanced performance in ethanol dehydration by pervaporation. The permeability of this MMM is three times higher than that of pristine PVA, and the separation factor is nearly nine times larger than that of pristine PVA. The significantly improved separation performance was attributed to the increase in the fractional free volume in the membranes.
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