Topic：Facilitated Transport Membranes for Olefin/Paraffin Separation
Dept. of Chemical Engineering, University of Waterloo
Light olefins, particularly ethylene and propylene, are important petrochemical feedstocks. The separation of olefins (e.g., ethylene and propylene) from their associated paraffins (e.g. ethane and propane) is one of the most difficult separations in olefin/polyolefin industry. Currently, low temperature distillation is used primarily for olefin/paraffin separations, and the process is highly capital- and energy-intensive. While membrane technology has established itself as an indispensable unit operation for gas separations, the conventional membranes currently available are unfortunately not permselective enough for practical use in olefin/paraffin separations.
Over the past few years, we have developed a nanostructured composite membrane comprising of silver ions incorporated into a polymer matrix, which showed a remarkable performance for olefin/paraffin separation based on facilitated transport. Silver is used as a facilitating agent, and the interactions between olefin molecules and silver ions are exploited to facilitate the transport of olefins. The function of the polymer is to provide mechanical integrity, to distribute the silver ions across the membrane, and to provide a pathway for the migration of the silver ions and the silver-olefin complexes. The silver ions in the membrane are neither free ions as in immobilized liquid membranes nor tightly bond to the polymer matrix as in the ion exchange membranes. Pilot tests and process scale up of using such membranes for ethylene/ethane separation are being carried out in collaboration with industrial partners. In this seminar, the performance and structure of the newly developed membranes will be discussed, and the research findings on the mobility of silver ions in the membrane will also be presented.
Bio: Dr. X. Feng, Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo, is an internationally renowned expert on membranes and membrane separations. He is on the Editorial Boards of Journal of Membrane Science and Separation and Purification Technology, the premier journals of Elsevier Publishers in the area. He also serves as an Editor for Chemical Engineering Research and Design(Elsevier). In addition, he has been on International Advisory/Editorial boards of several journals in Malaysia, Pakistan and Iran. He has also been on the Scientific and/or Advisory Committees of numerous international conferences.
He is the original inventor of an olefin-paraffin membrane separation technology that is being commercially developed by industry. To date, he has published over 130 papers in reputed peer-reviewed journals, has made over 80 presentations at national/international conferences (including many Plenary Lectures and Keynote Speeches), and over 60 invited seminars/lectures at companies and institutions worldwide. He is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Premier’s Research Excellence Award (2005), the University of Waterloo Faculty of Engineering Distinguished Performance Awards (2002, 2005 and 2013), and the University of Waterloo Outstanding Performance Awards (2006, 2010 and 2014).