Nanotechnology-Enabled Expansion of the Boundaries on Large Scale Low Energy Intensity Separations

W.J. Koros
Georgia Institute of Technology, US

Keywords: polymer nanocomposite, nanoparticle


Purification and separation processes provide products vital to society; however, they are also large global energy consumers, since they currently rely primarily upon energy intensive thermally-driven approaches. Energy intensity and carbon dioxide emissions associated with many large scale separations can be reduced greatly by substituting membrane processes for traditional thermally-driven separation approaches. In addition, advanced sorbent approaches can provide low to moderate energy intensity solutions in cases where membranes are not ideally suited. The combination of advanced membranes and advanced sorbents can allow industrial growth along with protection of the environment and conservation of resources. Nanostructured membrane materials, processed into revolutionary large scale economical hollow fiber separation devices, are the key to a new generation of separation devices and integrated processes. The diversity of separation needs demands creating membranes and sorbents from a broad spectrum of nanostructured materials ranging from pure inorganics, metals and carbons to pure organic polymers. Hybrid materials containing molecularly selective nanoscopic dispersed phases in a polymer continuous phase are also particularly important components in this vision. This presentation will provide a framework and examples of how such a new vision can be applied practically to introduce these “change agents” to remodel the separations landscape.