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Membrane Contactors

With the use of continuous reactors, chemical production requires separation techniques that are highly selective, flexible, and applicable for various products. Investment costs must be low, and solutions need to be safe and robust. Extraction and absorption are among the 'workhorses' for separation. In their processes, the chemical industry often faces challenges in keeping streams separated.

TNO's innovations in Membrane Contactors serve the industry with solutions for key separation challenges. By combining and eliminating steps in the separation process, membrane contactors can offer significant cost- and time-saving solutions that are safe and reliable, and also offer higher yields, as well. The chemical industry requires solutions to match continuous reactor performance. For chemical producers, membrane contactors offer a viable and innovative solution to create a complete, effective and reliable process system from beginning to end.

Proven technology. New application

The technology that drives this innovative technique has been proven in mild environments, like water treatment systems. Now, TNO is developing ways to apply membrane contactors in the more harsh and demanding environments of the chemical industry. Using a single contactor with streams separated by a porous membrane, this method of Intensified Separation eliminates process steps and provides accurate, reliable Membrane Extraction (liquid/liquid), Gas Absorption (gas/liquid) and Evaporation (liquid/vapour) Separation. This method provides several key advantages, including:

  • Enhanced robustness and flexibility: No additional phase separation is needed.
  • Broader operational windows: Small density differences (L/L) and large feed/solvent ratio.
  • Enhanced operational and environmental safety: No emulsion droplets or hazardous mist formation.

This is especially beneficial for difficult-to-handle streams, such as suspensions or cell solutions that form stable emulsions, and gas streams that form mists.

Targeted partnerships

Innovations in Membrane Contactors are industry-led. Working with companies like Invista, Huntsman Chemical and DSM, TNO optimised the technology behind this process. By performing benchmark studies in comparison to current methods, we have sufficient evidence that the method can make improvements in chemical production efficiency, accuracy and cost. TNO's extensive knowledge is a bridge, joining together chemical manufacturers and the suppliers who serve them. Our experience in Membrane Contactors provides the proof companies need to explore this efficient, effective and productive method. Chemical producers can see significant benefits from the use of this technology.

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