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In this paper, a process for the microfabrication of a wafer-scale palladium-silver alloy membrane (Pd-Ag) is presented. Pd-Ag alloy films containing 23 wt% Ag were prepared by co-sputtering from pure Pd and Ag targets. The films were deposited on the unetched side of a <110>-oriented silicon wafer in which deep grooves were etched in a concentrated KOH solution, leaving silicon membranes with a thickness of ca. 50 μm. After alloy deposition, the silicon membranes were removed by etching, leaving Pd-Ag membranes. Anodic bonding of thick glass plates (containing powder blasted flow channels) to both sides of the silicon substrate was used to package the membranes and create a robust module. The hydrogen permeability of the Pd-Ag membranes was determined to be typically 0.5 mol H2/m2·s with a minimal selectivity of 550 for H2 with respect to He. The mechanical strength of the membrane was found to be adequate, pressures of up to 4 bars at room temperature did not break the membrane. The results indicate that the membranes are suitable for application in hydrogen purification or in dehydrogenation reactors. The presented fabrication method allows the development of a module for industrial applications that consists of a stack of a large number of glass/membrane plates.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2003