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Oxygen separation membranes made in China

By Paul Grad |

Researchers from the Center for Membrane Technology, Beijing University of Technology (China; www.bjut.edu.cn) have developed a new spiral-wound membrane module for use in oxygen-enriched combustion. A pilot-scale system with five membrane modules has been built and tested in a 4-ton, oil-fired boiler. According to the Center’s director, professor Shulan Ji, the fuel required to generate one 1 GJ of heat decreased from 28 kg to about 26.3 kg when using O2-enriched air, suggesting energy savings of at least 5.7%. The membranes — a composite of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and polysulfone (PS) — are made using a dip-coating method. First, PS support membranes are pretreated by sequential immersion into 25 wt.%, 50 wt.% and 75 wt.% ethanol-water mixtures and pure ethanol. Then the composite PDMS membranes are formed by dip-coating PS support membranes into the PDMS casting solution — a mixture of PDMS, the crosslinking agent TEOS (tetraethoxysilane), and the catalyst dibutyltin at a precise weight ratio in cyclohexane. It is noted that casting solution concentration, coating time and coating speed greatly influence the membrane performance. Membrane modules (4-in. dia, 1-m long) are then made from at least one pair…
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