Applications in Energy and Petrochem
Biofuels are a carbon neutral source of energy and they have been around longer than cars have, and yet uptake has been hindered by still-cheaper sources from fossil fuels. As the world grapples with the worsening effects of climate change, there is renewed focus and urgency on clean and renewable fuels. The key to adoption is economic viability driven by process simplification and output yields. Membrane reactor (MR) technology has been shown to greatly alleviate the challenges of separating unreacted emulsified oil from trans-esterified products and experiments with ceramic membranes are able to generate better yields in the purification process of biodiesel compared to the traditional water washing process that consumes more water, time and energy. MRs also enhance biomass gasification to produce hydrogen that are used in fuel cells or internal combustion engines to power electric vehicles and devices.
Apart from making clean energy cheaper, membranes could potentially make fossil fuels separation and refining processes greener as well. For example, a combination of distillation and membrane pervaporation can decrease the energy demand required for hydrocarbon mixture separation. Also, the use of ultrafiltration (UF) membranes to separate highly stable oil/water emulsion reduces the volume of oily wastewater to be removed to only a small fraction of the original volume. Membrane contactors are emerging to replace conventional scrubber for gas/liquid contacting due to 10 times higher volumetric mass transfer rates compared to conventional scrubbers. UF membranes also has the potential to remove all contaminants from recycled lubricating oil without the need of chemicals.
The UF market for polymeric and ceramic membranes across all industries is valued at 1M in 2018 and is projected to reach 2M million by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 15.0% (Research and Markets, 2018).
- Recent Development in Membrane and Its Industrial Applications. Membrane Technology in Oil and Gas Industry