AgendaTalk Details

Membrane-Based Gas Separations: Current Limitations for Commercial Success

10:00 - 10:30 Level 0, between bld. 4 and 5

Gas separation processes using membrane technology were introduced in the in the 1980s for hydrogen recovery in petrochemical applications and carbon dioxide removal from natural gas. The first installations for these applications were made possible by: (i) development of ultrathin asymmetric membranes from commercially available glassy polymers, i.e. polysulfone and cellulose acetate, (ii) spiral-wound and hollow fiber module designs, and (iii) optimized process engineering. The next large-scale commercial breakthrough was the development of membrane systems for onsite production of 95-99% nitrogen from air in the early 1990s for various end-user applications. Entry into this market was simple as the required membrane properties could be fulfilled with a wide variety of already existing commercial polymers/membranes (poly(4-methyl-1-pentene) -TPX®, polysulfone, polyphenylene oxide, polyimide - Matrimid®). The only new membrane type specifically developed for air separation was based on tetrabromo-polycarbonate made by Dow Chemical more than 25 years ago. Thin-film composite membranes based on rubbery, silicone-derived membranes were commercialized in the mid 1990s for the recovery of highly valuable organic vapors from various process streams. Other potential applications for membrane-based gas separations, including olefin/paraffin, isomers, N2/CH4, CO2 removal from flue gas etc., are still in their very early stages of development. In summary, only about a dozen, mostly commercial polymers in the form of asymmetric membranes are currently used for gas separations. On the other hand, a great number of new polymers with significantly better intrinsic performance than currently commercially used membrane materials have been developed that significantly pushed the permeability/selectivity “upper bounds” to their yet unknown limits. This presentation will shed some light on the question of why new high-performance membrane materials are continuously developed but their implementation in industrial membrane systems is very slow or non-existing

  • Prof. Ingo Pinnau, KAUST

    Prof. Ingo Pinnau