(43c) High Selectivity Microporous Silica Membranes for Lactic Acid Dehydration

Authors: 
Duke, M. C., Division of Chemical Engineering
Lim, A., Ngee Ann Polytechnic
Nielsen, L. K., Division of Chemical Engineering
Diniz da Costa, J. C., Division of Chemical Engineering


Lactic acid (LA) has significant market potential for many industries including food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, medical and biodegradable materials. Production of LA usually begins with the fermentation of glucose but subsequent stages for the enrichment of lactic acid are complex and energy intensive and could be minimised using water selective membrane technology. In this work, we trialled a highly selective hydrostable carbonised template molecular sieve silica (CTMSS) membrane for the dehydration of a 15 vol% aqueous lactic acid solution with 0.1 vol% glucose. CTMSS membrane films were developed by dip-coating ceramic substrates with silica sols made using the acid catalysed sol-gel process. Permeation was performed by feeding LA/glucose solution to the membrane cell at 18°C in a standard pervaporation setup. The membrane showed selective transport of water from the aqueous feed to the permeate while glucose was not detected. CTMSS membrane permeate flux stabilised at 0.2 kg.m-2.hr-1 in 3.9 hours, and reduced LA to lower than 0.2 vol%. Flux through the CTMSS micropores was activated, displaying increased initial flux to 1.58 kg.m-2.hr-1 at 60°C. To enrich a 1 l.min-1 stream to 85% LA in a single stage, a minimum membrane area of 324 m2 would be required at 18°C. Increased operating temperature to 80°C significantly reduced this area to 24 m2 but LA levels in the permeate stream increased to 0.5 vol%. The highly selective CTMSS membrane technology is an ideal candidate for LA purification. CTMSS membrane systems operate stably in aqueous systems leading to potential cost reductions in LA processing for future markets.

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