(586b) Major Applications of Osn Membrane Technology

Abhinava, K. - Presenter, Evonik Corporation

For more than 60 years, membranes have been used for molecular scale separations in aqueous solutions with applications in reverse osmosis and nanofiltration – e.g. waste water treatment, water desalination, dairy industry - but the new frontier in liquid filtrations is molecular separation in organic solvents [1]. Organic solvent nanofiltration (OSN) has emerged in the last 5-10 years as an effective technique for product purification in a wide range of process chemical industries (e.g. Pharmaceuticals, Specialty, Chemicals, Petrochemicals, Natural Oils etc.) where molecules in the 150 to 1,500 Da range need to be separated or concentrated in presence of an organic solvent. The breakthrough in OSN technology has occurred with the commercialization of Evonik’s DuraMem® and PuraMem® range of membranes. This has opened up possibilities for these OSN applications in a variety of organic solvents ranging from non-polar through polar to polar aprotic.

In majority of process chemistries, up to 90% of the capital investment involves separation processes [2]. OSN can be applied as a unit operation on its own or in combination with other unit operation(s) to achieve various separation tasks. OSN membrane technology is particularly advantageous when replacing or minimizing a high temperature (e.g. evaporation) or a low temperature (e.g. chilled extraction / de-waxing) unit operations thus leading to substantial energy savings. With separation of molecules of different molecular weights in an organic solvent, OSN offers a particularly energy efficient way to achieve the purification and thus enhancement in product quality and ease of manufacturing.

The relevance and importance of these applications will be demonstrated through several major case studies on applying OSN. Benefits such as mass efficiency via increase of product yields, reduction of process time, and reduced use of high-energy consuming technologies will be presented.


[1] Vandezande, P., Gevers, L.E.M., Vankelecom, I.F.J., “Solvent resistant nanofiltration: Separating on a molecular level”, Chemical Society Reviews, 37 (2), 365-405 (2008).

[2] Cuperus P., Ebert K., “Nanofiltration- principles and applications”, Elsevier Advanced Technology, 521-536, 2002.