Membrane technology applied to the separation of gaseous mixtures competes with conventional unit operations (e. g., distillation, absorption, adsorption) on the basis of overall economics, safety, environmental and technical aspects. Since the first industrial installations for hydrogen separation in the early eighties, significant improvements in membrane quality have been achieved in air separation as well as in CO2 separation. However, beside the improvement in the materials as well as in membrane module design, an important point is represented by a correct engineering of these separation processes. The recovery of high value co-products from different industrial streams (e.g. organic vapours from off-gas streams, helium from natural gas) is an interesting application, which created a new market for gas separation membranes, coupling environmental and economic benefits. The opportunity to integrate membrane operations in ongoing production cycles for taking advantage from their peculiar characteristics has been proved as a viable approach. In this ambit, membrane systems in appropriate ranges of operating conditions meet the main requirements such as purity, productivity, energy demand of specific industrial processes. A critical discussion about the role of membrane material and engineering aspects is given. Finally, this work intends to give a brief overview of the development of the membrane technology for gas separation in the last 30 years, addressing open problems and strategies proposed in applications of industrial interest.
Times Cited: 2 Pierucci, S Klemes, JJ 11th International Conference on Chemical and Process Engineering (ICheaP) Jun 02-05, 2013 Milan, ITALY 2 978-88-95608-23-5