Introduction to Gas Separation Membrane Technologies | AIChE

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Introduction to Gas Separation Membrane Technologies

On The Horizon

Separating industrial gases using membranes at large scale is a relatively new concept, but has potential to greatly impact the chemical process industries (CPI).

Membrane technology has been used in commercial separations for the past 50 years. Membrane separation first found commercial success in desalination of seawater because it was much more energy efficient than thermal processes (1). Soon thereafter, other types of membrane processes that separated multivalent salts, proteins, and small organisms were commercialized. In the 1980s, developments in membrane technology produced the first commercial application in gas separation. The majority of these membranes were constructed of polymeric materials, which continue to dominate in today’s gas separation applications.

This article provides an introduction to gas separation membranes. It begins by defining the common terms used in membrane separation and discusses the two main types of membranes and their gas transport mechanisms. The article concludes with a look at the gas separation applications where membranes are being employed...

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