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Comment PDF Separation Processes

Chementator: A promising nanosieve for dehydrating solvents and biofuels  

By Gerald Ondrey |

Although nanoporous silica membranes are promising systems for the molecular separation of gases and liquids, they lack microstructural stability in the presence of water at temperatures as low as 60°C. Prolonged exposure to water causes hydrolysis, resulting in the formation of large, non-selective pores and cracks in the membrane. On the other hand, polymeric membranes are less prone to damage by water, but are unable to operate at high temperatures. A hybrid membrane, which combines the advantages of ceramics and polymers, has been developed by researchers at the University of Twente (Enschede, Netherlands; edlinks.chemengonline.com/7370-566). In collaboration with the University of Amsterdam and the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN; Petten; edlinks.chemengonline.com/7370-567), the Twente scientists have shown that the new membrane can be used to dehydrate 95 wt.% n-butanol, without a significant drop in selectivity after continuous exposure to 150°C for 1.5 yr. In contrast, inorganic silica deteriorated within weeks at 95°C, according to professor Andre ten Elshof, professor at Twente’s Dept. of Inorganic Materials Science. In the new membrane (diagram), some of the ceramic links (Si – O –…
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