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Microporous ceramic membranes for gas separation performance characterisation and process design



Extensive investigations into microporous ceramic membranes over the past decade have been largely directed at membrane production rather than the evaluation of performance under process conditions. Only recently has sufficient progress been made in the production of reproducible ceramic membranes to permit a more detailed comparative evaluation of their use in major chemical and petrochemical processes. The primary objective of this study is to demonstrate that substantial savings in energy and reductions in overall process capital costs are attainable in a range of processes before any larger scale test development programmes are initiated on specific membrane processes.

Technical Approach

This evaluation will cover all aspects of membrane production, evaluation and flowsheet design.
- The production and supply of ceramic membranes by ECN (silica), British Gas (BG) (silica alumina), CNRS Lyon (silicalite), Smart Chemical Company (SCC) (zeolite A), MAST (carbon) and Salford University and Johnson Matthey (palladium/ceramic).
- Pilot plant studies covering - low temperature separations (environmental applications - Atlantis, natural gas processing British Gas, FCC off-gas and ammonia synthesis product gas separation - Bath) and higher temperature membrane reactor applications (water gas shift and steam reforming - ECN and Salford, hydrocarbon dehydrogenation - IFP). - Detailed flowsheeting studies by Kvaerner and BG (natural gas processing), Bath (FCC off-gas), Continental Engineering (ammonia plant applications), Siemens and Essen (hydrogen production/IGCC/co-generation) , IFP (dehydrogenation) and heat and mass flow modelling by NTUA. - Adsorption and transport studies by Imperial College, Bath, Demokritos, Leipzig and Lyon for incorporation into the membrane modules and flowsheeting packages.

Expected Achievements and Exploitation

The anticipated outcomes are:
- a detailed model of adsorption and transport in microporous ceramic and palladium membranes;
- the performance characteristics of the membranes in several industrial processes;
- an analysis of the commercial viability of the membranes covering their potential to reduce the energy consumption or environmental emissions of major process plants at equivalent or lower capital costs than existing technologies.

The results from (3) will allow the industrial partners to take the necessary decisions on the further development of ceramic membrane based processes. If the studies confirm that substantial reductions in energy consumption can be achieved cost effectively, the process developers and membrane producers will collaborate on the next stages (larger scale and longer term testing) in the commercial development of the membranes and processes.

Call for proposal

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University of Bath
Claverton down
BA2 7AY Bath
United Kingdom

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EU contribution
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Participants (14)