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Separation of Olefin/Paraffin Mixtures with Carrier Facilitated Membrane Final Report

Description: This document describes the results of a DOE funded joint effort of Membrane Technology and Research Inc. (MTR), SRI International (SRI), and ABB Lummus (ABB) to develop facilitated transport membranes for olefin/paraffin separations. Currently, olefin/paraffin separation is done by distillation—an extremely energy-intensive process because of the low relative volatilities of olefins and paraffins. If facilitated transport membranes could be successfully commercialized, the potential energy savings achievable with this membrane technology are estimated to be 48 trillion Btu per year by the year 2020. We discovered in this work that silver salt-based facilitated transport membranes are not stable even in the presence of ideal olefin/paraffin mixtures. This decline in membrane performance appears to be caused by a previously unrecognized phenomenon that we have named olefin conditioning. As the name implies, this mechanism of performance degradation becomes operative once a membrane starts permeating olefins. This project is the first study to identify olefin conditioning as a significant factor impacting the performance of facilitated olefin transport membranes. To date, we have not identified an effective strategy to mitigate the impact of olefin conditioning. other than running at low temperatures or with low olefin feed pressures. In our opinion, this issue must be addressed before further development of facilitated olefin transport membranes can proceed. In addition to olefin conditioning, traditional carrier poisoning challenges must also be overcome. Light, hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide, and acetylene exposure adversely affect membrane performance through unwanted reaction with silver ions. Harsh poisoning tests with these species showed useful membrane lifetimes of only one week. These tests demonstrate a need to improve the stability of the olefin complexing agent to develop membranes with lifetimes satisfactory for commercial application. A successful effort to improve membrane coating solution stability resulted in the finding that membrane performance loss could be reversed for all poisoning ...
Date: March 12, 2007
Creator: Merkel, T.C.; Blanc, R.; Zeid, J.; Suwarlim, A.; Firat, B.; Wijmans, H. et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department