The overall objective of this project is to improve, by pervaporation integration, the separation sequences of the production processes of both main ethers : MTBE and ETBE. We shall mainly try to work out the problems relative to ETBE production; these problems seem to be the most difficult to work out and the least studied to date.
Improved processes combining distillation with the pervaporation step were developed for the removal of oxygenated compounds, especially alcohols (methanol, ethanol) from hydrocarbons and/or ether streams in etherification processes of interest to the oil industry. These include the synthesis of methyltetrabutylether (MTBE), ethyltetrabutylether (ETBE) and tetraamylmethylether (TAME). These processes are simpler and cheaper both in investment cost and energy consumption than the present conventional separation processes.
New pervaporation membranes and systems have been developed for the separation of methanol from hydrocarbons and ethanol from ethers and other organics. The main applications are in methyltetrabutylether (MTBE) and ethyltetrabutylether (ETBE) production plants with other potential uses being in the chemical and petrochemical industries. In comparison with the traditional technology these systems are advantageous with respect to energy saving and lower investment and operating costs.
Furthur applications are found and have been tested in the seperation of methanol and ethanol out of their azeotropic mixtures with other organic components, especially the retrospective esters.
Therefore, the main purpose of this project is to design and develop new pervaporation membranes for alcohol extraction (methanol/ethanol) from hydrocarbons (C4 fraction) and/or from ethers (MTBE/ETBE).
It will bring about a major innovation in pervaporation field, by extending this technology, hitherto limited to the separations of water/organic compound mixtures, to organic/organic type separations.
It is based on three complementary lines :
1) Development of new membranes specific to alcohol/ether and/or alcohol/hydrocarbon separations.
2) Design improvement and cost reduction of the pervaporation units.
3) Definition of optimal separation processes.