Improved hybrid membranes for CO2 separation with aligned nanostructures

L. Sørvik, L. Ansaloni, M.T. Guzman Gutierrez, L. Deng, T.A. Peters, H. Hemmen
CondAlign AS,
Norway

Keywords: gas separation, hybrid membranes, active distribution of particles, CCS, gas separation membranes, mixed matrix membranes

Summary:

The gas separation membranes available in todays’ market are not selective enough to be competitive with conventional gas separation systems such as absorption. Insufficient selectivity causes too much of the unwanted gas to slip through, hampering further processing. Commercially available membranes for CO2 separation typically have a limit on their performance known as the Robeson Upper Bound, which states that there is always a trade-off between selectivity and permeability. Current hybrid membranes have random distribution of particles in the matrix. There is little literature on achievements of active distribution and alignment of the particles in hybrid membranes. We are developing new and improved gas separation membranes by embedding nanoparticles within the polymers to improve the gas separation performance. By carefully controlling the orientation of the nanoparticles, enhanced exploitation of their selective features is possible. Modelling has shown that optimal alignment of nanoparticles in or across the plane of the membrane, makes it possible to achieve maximum membrane performance. CondAlign’s patented technology enables this alignment by using electric fields to efficiently position and orient the particles. In addition, the technology reduces the quantity of costly particles in the membranes. This is achieved through controlled positioning of nanoparticles in the membrane. The nanoparticles may be oriented in two directions; parallel with or orthogonal to the membrane surface. Particles that enhance CO2 transport aligned orthogonally, facilitate the passage of CO2 through the membrane. Selected particles aligned in parallel, block unwanted gases while the CO2 gas may permeate at its usual rate. CondAlign’s technology applied on hybrid membranes for gas separation is a technological breakthrough. It truly enables cost efficient CO2-membranes with high yields. This will decrease costs connected to carbon capture drastically, compared both to current membranes and absorption technologies. The market for gas separation membranes is estimated to $ 1,400 M in 2015 and expected to nearly double within 2024. We expect that a successful commercialization of the project will lead to a market share of 8 % some years after the launch of the product.