(6ed) Fueling Our Future with Membrane Technology:Clean Energy Conversion and Process Intensification | AIChE

(6ed) Fueling Our Future with Membrane Technology:Clean Energy Conversion and Process Intensification


Liguori, S. - Presenter, Colorado School of Mines

Fueling our Future with Membrane

Clean Energy Conversion and Process

Simona Liguori – Department
of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO

Research Assistant Professor – Colorado School of Mines 2016
– present

Physical Science Research Associate – Stanford University 2014
– 2016

Post Doc – Institute on Membrane Technology – ITM-CNR 2012 – 2014

Motivation and Research Interests:

the view of a significant reduction of greenhouse gases emissions amidst fossil
fuel exploitation, the use of sustainable energy sources is a mandatory option
as well as the use of alternative fuels for energy conversion. In this context
a strong interest has been addressed towards the possible development of a
global ‘hydrogen economy’, by considering hydrogen as the energy carrier of the
future and as reliable fuel source for transportation and stationary system. Among
all of the different technologies to produce green and sustainable hydrogen, inorganic
membrane reactors are a promising alternative to enable distributed and
centralized production and separation of hydrogen, respectively.

Hydrogencan be generated using feedstock from renewable sources, such as biogas, biomethanol, bioethanol, and bioglycerol
or from fossil fuel such as natural gas. In both cases, two streams are
produced by performing the reforming reaction in the membrane reactor. One
stream contains high-purity hydrogen, which can be directly fed to a PEM fuel
cell or internal combustion engine, while the other stream is mainly composed of
CO2, which can be easily separated and stored. An evident outcome of
using a membrane reactor is emissions-free energy generation.

membrane reactors are a clear example of process intensification and their utilization
provides several other benefits when applied to chemical processes.
Specifically, they are able to reduce the equipment footprint, energy
consumption, and environmental impact of manufacturing processes. For these
reasons, they may also be applied to NH3 production. They allow for
performing the process at milder operating conditions than the conventional Haber-Bosch
process and to produce ammonia on-site eliminating the need for the U.S. import
of foreign ammonia. Specifically, for the first time it has been demonstrated
that N2 permeates through metallic membranes by solution-diffusion
and, by using the hydrogen as a sweep gas, it is feasible to produce NH3
at a lower operating pressure.

new method to produce NH3 is highly significant as the current
process is the second most energy-intensive chemical manufacturing process in
the US and worldwide due to the harsh operating conditions.

In general,
inorganic membranes have the potential to play a critical role in the area of
clean energy conversion and the study of different materials through alloying
is the key to reaching high membrane reactor performance.

In summary,
my research is focused on:

production by renewable sources or natural gas at lower operating conditions,

production via an alternate route from the conventional Haber-Bosch process,

manufacturing and materials-alloying investigations to produce high-performing

direct capture of CO2 from a residue stream before it is released
into the atmosphere.

Teaching Experience and Teaching Interests:

knowledge and communicating effectively is very important to me. I have served
as a Teaching Assistant (TA) for Inorganic Chemistry courses for two years in
Italy. Teaching is a very complex activity. It involves planning for learning,
organizing materials, prioritizing ideas, interacting with students, learning
to "monitor and adjust", "differentiate instruction" for
students of various abilities, and learning how to accomplish goals that sometimes
seem to be mutually exclusive, all while keeping "control" of a class
and meeting the expectations of parents, administrators, and peers. Anyhow, I
am always enthusiastic and passionate when I have to share my knowledge with
student and when they are engaged during my lesson. I have had the opportunity
to serve as mentor for three undergraduate students in Italy and two PhD
student at Stanford and currently mentor three PhD student at the Colorado
School of Mines.

that I would be interested in teaching are fluid mechanics, transport phenomena,
thermodynamics, energy conversion processes, and chemical kinetics.


have been working on several fields on chemical engineering: reactor analysis
and chemical kinetics, heat/mass transfer, and reaction/diffusion through catalysts
and membranes.

my PhD, my research focused on experimental and simulation analysis of
reforming reactions of bio-fuels in both membrane and fixed-bed reactors for
hydrogen production. Since completing my PhD, I have continued my research in
membrane science and technology in my position as a Post-Doctoral Research
Fellow at the Institute on Membrane Technology from 2012 to 2014 and as a
Physical Science Research Associate at Stanford University from 2014 to 2016. I have been conducting research as a Research
Assistant Professor with the Colorado School of Mines since June 2016
continuing my focus on membrane science and clean energy conversion processes.

Future Direction

a faculty member I would like to continue applying membrane science and
technology to different areas of engineering, as well as industrial
applications. In particular, I would like to merge the knowledge that I obtained
during my PhD and post-doctoral position: chemical engineering, and environmental
and applied science. I believe that the synergy between the two fields can make
feasible the reduction the greenhouse gases, above all CO2, by
producing H2 and NH3 by means of an alternative device including
a membrane reactor.

I only started working with the Colorado School of Mines in 2016, I have hit
the ground running in terms of improving my knowledge base associated membrane
separations. I have had the opportunity while at Mines to continue my
collaborations with Prof. Jennifer Wilcox in addition to beginning
collaborations with membrane expert, Professor Doug Way. I am currently working
on the evaluation of the performance of a membrane reactor to produce NH3
at ambient pressure and by using a layer of catalyst deposited on the membrane
surface (H2 permeates through the membrane and N2 is used
a sweep-gas); NH3 production in a membrane reactor at low operating
conditions compared to the Haber-Bosch process (opposite case: N2 permeates through the membrane and H2
is used a sweep-gas); H2 production and separation in Pd-alloys
membrane reactor from reforming reactions; writing proposal for NSF, DOE and
ARPA-E related to the H2 production and separation in membrane
reactor technology from renewable and natural gas reforming, respectively;
writing scientific articles and chapters.


1.     S.
, J.
Wilcox, Membrane considerations and plant design for post-combustion CO2
capture, Ch. 14, In Current Trends and Future Developments on (Bio-) Membranes,
A. Basile, E. Favvas (Eds.), (2018) Elsevier, ISBN

2.     B. Anzelmo,
J. Wilcox, S. Liguori (Corresponding
, “Hydrogen production via natural gas steam reforming in a Pd-Au
membrane reactor. Reaction temperature and GHSV effects and long-term reaction”,
2018, submitted to Journal of Membrane

3.     B. Anzelmo,
J. Wilcox, S. Liguori (Corresponding
, “Hydrogen production via natural gas steam reforming in a Pd-Au
membrane reactor. Comparison between methane and natural gas steam reforming
reactions”, 2018, submitted to Journal of
Membrane Science

4.     B. Anzelmo,
J. Wilcox, S. Liguori (Corresponding
, “Natural gas steam reforming reaction at low temperature and
pressure conditions for hydrogen production via Pd/PSS membrane reactor”, Journal of Membrane Science, 522 (2017) 343-350.

5.     S.
, J.
Wilcox, Silica membranes application for Carbon Dioxide separation, Ch. 11, In
Current Trends and Future Developments on (Bio-) Membranes, A. Basile, K. Ghasemzadeh (Eds.), (2017) Elsevier, pp. 265-294, ISBN

6.     S.
, J.
Wilcox, Membrane considerations and plant design for post-combustion CO2
capture, Ch. 14, In Current Trends and Future Developments on (Bio-) Membranes,
A. Basile, E. Favvas (Eds.), (2018) Elsevier, ISBN

7.     S.
, K. Lee,
J. Wilcox, " Innovative
N2-selective metallic membranes for a higher-efficiency of CO2
capture" 2018, submitted to Journal
of Membrane Science

8.     J. Wilcox, P.C. Psarras,
S. Liguori, “Assessment of reasonable opportunities for direct air capture”,
Environmental Research Letters 12 (2017) 065001. (It was invited)

9.     A. Iulianelli,
S. Liguori, J. Wilcox, A. Basile, “Advances
on methane steam reforming to produce hydrogen through membrane reactors
technology: a review”, Catalysis Reviews
Science & Engineering
, 58 (2016)

10.  A. Iulianelli,
S. Liguori, Y. Huang, A Basile, “Model biogas steam reforming in a thin
Pd-supported membrane reactor to generate clean hydrogen for fuel cells”, Journal of Power Sources, 273 (2015) 25-32.

11.  S. Liguori, A. Iulianelli,
F. Dalena, P. Pinacci, F.
Drago, M. Broglia, Y. Huang, A Basile, “Performance
and long-term stability of Pd/PSS and Pd/Al2O3 membranes
for hydrogen separation”, Membranes, 4 (2014) 143-162.

12.  S.
, M. Yuan,
K. Lee, B. Anzelmo, N. Buggy, T. Fuerst,
D. Way, S. Paglieri, J. Wilcox, "Opportunities
and Challenges for Hydrogen Production/Separation via Metallic Membranes",
2018, in preparation, Energy &
Environmental Science
. (It is invited).