Mass Spectrometry & Spectroscopy

  • New Technique Promises to Accelerate Materials Development for Gas Separations

New Technique Promises to Accelerate Materials Development for Gas Separations

Jan 22 2021 Read 4374 Times

In an exciting new advance, a team of scientists from Hiden Isochema Ltd and Cleveland State University have developed a new way of analysing materials for separating gases. Although gas separation using porous materials is an established technology, analytical techniques for assessing the performance of materials tend to be slow and laborious. The new Integral Mass Balance (IMB) method is faster and more accurate than existing techniques, and promises to accelerate new materials development for gas separation technology.

To demonstrate the technique, the team have made measurements on a zeolite. Zeolites are porous materials with a range of uses, perhaps most notably in washing powder, but they are also particularly good at separating and drying gases. The reported measurements relate to oxygen (O2) production from air, by separating O2 from N2.

In medicine, where purified O2 is widely used, this technology is vital. Whilst small-scale and portable medical O2 generators are widely available for personal use, larger PSA O2 generators, filled with zeolites, have been installed at emergency field hospitals constructed to cope with the current coronavirus crisis, where reliable O2 supplies have been critical for treating patients.

Now the team want to explore the technique’s range of applicability. “Having shown that the IMB method works for air separation using zeolites, we’d like to apply it to other important separations,” said Dr Darren Broom, Product Manager for Hiden Isochema. “Capturing CO2 from power plant flue gases, for example, is of great interest, as this will help tackle the difficult and serious problem of climate change due to increasing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Other future targets include separations used for natural gas upgrading and biogas purification, as well as hydrogen (H2) production and purification. Both H2 and natural gas are important for the transition to a low carbon energy future, in which fossil fuel use will be gradually phased out.

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