In the petrochemical and refining industry, separation of olefins and paraffins is generally performed via distillation, a fixed, costly, and capital intensive method, particularly for light olefins. 


Through a RAPID R&D project, member Compact Membrane Systems (CMS) is advancing its Optiperm™ process technology, a silver-incorporated custom amorphous fluoropolymer membrane to separate light olefins and paraffins in the vapor phase. Compared to previous attempts using facilitated transport membranes, this membrane has been shown over three years of stability in the lab and 50 days of stable operation in its first field trial. CMS has developed a robust pretreatment system and a proprietary humidification system based on learning from the field. Due to its modular nature, Optiperm™ can be used in conjunction with existing technology, or as a stand-alone process, to increase energy efficiency and productivity, while decreasing the module cost and cost of deployment for light olefin separations. 


The separation of light olefins and paraffins is a $300 billion dollar market that accounts for 0.3% of global energy usage. Light olefins are one of the most important chemical markets globally, approaching 200 million metric tons of propylene and ethylene production in 2018. These molecules are extremely important due to their status as building blocks for numerous petrochemicals including polyethylene and polypropylene.