Fermentations provide an alternative to fossil fuels for accessing a number of biofuel and chemical products from a variety of renewable and waste substrates. The recovery of these dilute fermentation products from the broth, however, can be incredibly energy intensive as a distillation process is generally involved and creates a barrier to commercialization. Membrane processes can provide a low energy aid/alternative for recovering these dilute fermentation products and reduce production costs. For these types of separations many current polymeric and inorganic membranes suffer from poor selectivity and high cost respectively. This paper reviews work in the production of novel mixed-matrix membranes (MMMs) for fermentative separations and those applicable to these separations. These membranes combine a trade-off of low-cost and processability of polymer membranes with the high selectivity of inorganic membranes. Work within the fields of nanofiltration, reverse osmosis and pervaporation has been discussed. The review shows that MMMs are currently providing some of the most high-performing membranes for these separations, with three areas for improvement identified: Further characterization and optimization of inorganic phase(s), Greater understanding of the compatibility between the polymer and inorganic phase(s), Improved methods for homogeneously dispersing the inorganic phase.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited