Special Issue "Membrane and Membrane Reactors Operations in Chemical Engineering"

A special issue of ChemEngineering (ISSN 2305-7084).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (16 February 2019)

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A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Adolfo Iulianelli

Institute on Membrane Technology of the Italian National Research Council (CNR-ITM), via P. Bucci Cubo 17/C c/o University of Calabria, Rende, CS 87036, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: membrane reactors; membrane technology in gas separation; hydrogen production and reforming reactions; CO2 capture and fuel cells

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The principles of the Process Intensification Strategy, applied to chemical engineering, can lead to the development and re-design of new processes that are more compact, efficient, and useful for better-exploiting renewable materials, as well as a lower energy consumption and reduced plant volume. Membrane technology contributes to the valorization of these principles and, in the last few years, the potentialities of membrane operations have been largely recognized.

With their intrinsic behaviors of efficiency and operational simplicity, high selectivity and permeability, compatibility between different membrane operations in integrated systems, low energetic requirement, good stability under operating conditions and environment compatibility, membrane operations represent an interesting and alternative approach in chemical engineering processes. Membrane gas separation, membrane distillation, membrane crystallizers, membrane contactors, membrane strippers and scrubbers, and, in particular, membrane reactors and membrane bioreactors in their various configurations and functionalities, are growing in parallel to the molecular separations realized with pressure driven membrane operations.

Within this context, this Special Issue aims at compiling relevant contributions showing the potentialities of membrane and membrane reactors operations in chemical engineering based on the application of the Process Intensification principles. Modeling and experimental manuscripts, as well as reviews dealing with the most significative processes in chemical engineering performed via membrane and membrane reactors operations, are particularly welcome.

Dr. Adolfo Iulianelli
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • membrane gas separation
  • membrane reactors and bioreactors
  • membrane crystallization
  • membrane distillation and waste water treatment
  • membrane emulsifier
  • membrane operations in food applications

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Open AccessReview
Water and Wastewater Treatment Systems by Novel Integrated Membrane Distillation (MD)
ChemEngineering 2019, 3(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemengineering3010008
Received: 30 September 2018 / Revised: 16 December 2018 / Accepted: 7 January 2019 / Published: 15 January 2019
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Abstract
The scarcity of freshwater has been recognized as one of the main challenges people must overcome in the 21st century. The adoption of an environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and energy-efficient membrane distillation (MD) process can mitigate the pollution caused by industrial and domestic wastes. [...] Read more.
The scarcity of freshwater has been recognized as one of the main challenges people must overcome in the 21st century. The adoption of an environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and energy-efficient membrane distillation (MD) process can mitigate the pollution caused by industrial and domestic wastes. MD is a thermally driven process based on vapor–liquid equilibrium, in which the separation process takes place throughout a microporous hydrophobic membrane. The present paper offers a comprehensive review of the state-of-the-art MD technology covering the MD applications in wastewater treatment. In addition, the important and sophisticated recent advances in MD technology from the perspectives of membrane characteristics and preparation, membrane configurations, membrane wetting, fouling, and renewable heat sources have been presented and discussed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Multivariate Statistical Analyses of Membrane Performance in the Clarification of Citrus Press Liquor
ChemEngineering 2019, 3(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemengineering3010010
Received: 19 October 2018 / Revised: 6 December 2018 / Accepted: 10 January 2019 / Published: 17 January 2019
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Abstract
The orange press liquor is a by-product of the orange juice production containing bioactive compounds recognized for their beneficial implications in human health. The recovery of these compounds offers new opportunities for the formulation of products of interest in food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic [...] Read more.
The orange press liquor is a by-product of the orange juice production containing bioactive compounds recognized for their beneficial implications in human health. The recovery of these compounds offers new opportunities for the formulation of products of interest in food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry. The clarification of orange press liquor by microfiltration (MF) and/or ultrafiltration (UF) processes is a valid approach to remove macromolecules, colloidal particles, and suspended solids from sugars and bioactive compounds. In this work the clarification of orange press liquor was studied by using three flat-sheet polymeric membranes: a MF membrane with a pore size of 0.2 μm and two UF membranes with nominal molecular weight cut-off (MWCO) of 150 and 200 kDa, respectively. The membrane performance, in terms of permeate flux and membrane rejection towards hesperidin and sugars, was studied according to a multivariate analyses approach. In particular, characteristics influencing the performance of the investigated membranes, such as molecular weight cut-off (MWCO), contact angle, membrane thickness, pore size distribution, as well as operating conditions, including temperature, and operating time, were analysed through the partial least square regression (PLSR). The multivariate method revealed crucial information on variables which are relevant to maximize the permeate flux and to minimize the rejection of hesperidin and sugars in the clarification of orange press liquor. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Preliminary Equipment Design for On-Board Hydrogen Production by Steam Reforming in Palladium Membrane Reactors
ChemEngineering 2019, 3(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemengineering3010006
Received: 31 October 2018 / Revised: 17 December 2018 / Accepted: 7 January 2019 / Published: 15 January 2019
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Abstract
Hydrogen, as an energy carrier, can take the main role in the transition to a new energy model based on renewable sources. However, its application in the transport sector is limited by its difficult storage and the lack of infrastructure for its distribution. [...] Read more.
Hydrogen, as an energy carrier, can take the main role in the transition to a new energy model based on renewable sources. However, its application in the transport sector is limited by its difficult storage and the lack of infrastructure for its distribution. On-board H2 production is proposed as a possible solution to these problems, especially in the case of considering renewable feedstocks such as bio-ethanol or bio-methane. This work addresses a first approach for analyzing the viability of these alternatives by using Pd-membrane reactors in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEM-FC) vehicles. It has been demonstrated that the use of Pd-based membrane reactors enhances hydrogen productivity and provides enough pure hydrogen to feed the PEM-FC requirements in one single step. Both alternatives seem to be feasible, although the methane-based on-board hydrogen production offers some additional advantages. For this case, it is possible to generate 1.82 kmol h−1 of pure H2 to feed the PEM-FC while minimizing the CO2 emissions to 71 g CO2/100 km. This value would be under the future emissions limits proposed by the European Union (EU) for year 2020. In this case, the operating conditions of the on-board reformer are T = 650 °C, Pret = 10 bar and H2O/CH4 = 2.25, requiring 1 kg of catalyst load and a membrane area of 1.76 m2. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Hydrogen and Oxygen Evolution in a Membrane Photoreactor Using Suspended Nanosized Au/TiO2 and Au/CeO2
ChemEngineering 2019, 3(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemengineering3010005
Received: 8 October 2018 / Revised: 29 November 2018 / Accepted: 4 January 2019 / Published: 10 January 2019
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Abstract
Photocatalysis combined with membrane technology could offer an enormous potential for power generation in a renewable and sustainable way. Herein, we describe the one-step hydrogen and oxygen evolution through a photocatalytic membrane reactor. Experimental tests were carried out by means of a two-compartment [...] Read more.
Photocatalysis combined with membrane technology could offer an enormous potential for power generation in a renewable and sustainable way. Herein, we describe the one-step hydrogen and oxygen evolution through a photocatalytic membrane reactor. Experimental tests were carried out by means of a two-compartment cell in which a modified Nafion membrane separated the oxygen and hydrogen evolution semi-cells, while iron ions permeating through the membrane acted as a redox mediator. Nanosized Au/TiO2 and Au/CeO2 were employed as suspended photocatalysts for hydrogen and oxygen generation, respectively. The influence of initial Fe3+ ion concentration, ranging from 5 to 20 mM, was investigated, and the best results in terms of hydrogen and oxygen evolution were registered by working with 5 mM Fe3+. The positive effect of gold on the overall water splitting was confirmed by comparing the photocatalytic results obtained with the modified/unmodified titania and ceria. Au-loading played a key role for controlling the photocatalytic activity, and the optimal percentage for hydrogen and oxygen generation was 0.25 wt%. Under irradiation with visible light, hydrogen and oxygen were produced in stoichiometric amounts. The crucial role of the couple Fe3+/Fe2+ and of the membrane on the performance of the overall photocatalytic system was found. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Experimental Investigation of the Gas/Liquid Phase Separation Using a Membrane-Based Micro Contactor
ChemEngineering 2018, 2(4), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemengineering2040055
Received: 28 September 2018 / Revised: 2 November 2018 / Accepted: 6 November 2018 / Published: 14 November 2018
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Abstract
The gas/liquid phase separation of CO2 from a water-methanol solution at the anode side of a µDirect-Methanol-Fuel-Cell (µDMFC) plays a key role in the overall performance of fuel cells. This point is of particular importance if the µDMFC is based on a [...] Read more.
The gas/liquid phase separation of CO2 from a water-methanol solution at the anode side of a µDirect-Methanol-Fuel-Cell (µDMFC) plays a key role in the overall performance of fuel cells. This point is of particular importance if the µDMFC is based on a “Lab-on-a-Chip” design with transient working behaviour, as well as with a recycling and a recovery system for unused fuel. By integrating a membrane-based micro contactor downstream into the µDMFC, the efficient removal of CO2 from a water-methanol solution is possible. In this work, a systematic study of the separation process regarding gas permeability with and without two-phase flow is presented. By considering the µDMFC working behaviour, an improvement of the overall separation performance is pursued. In general, the gas/liquid phase separation is achieved by (1) using a combination of the pressure gradient as a driving force, and (2) capillary forces in the pores of the membrane acting as a transport barrier depending on the nature of it (hydrophilic/hydrophobic). Additionally, the separation efficiency, pressure gradient, orientation, liquid loss, and active membrane area for different feed inlet temperatures and methanol concentrations are investigated to obtain an insight into the separation process at transient working conditions of the µDMFC. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Solar Energy Assisted Membrane Reactor for Hydrogen Production
ChemEngineering 2019, 3(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemengineering3010009
Received: 9 November 2018 / Revised: 10 December 2018 / Accepted: 2 January 2019 / Published: 15 January 2019
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Abstract
Pd-based membrane reactors are strongly recognized as an effective way to boost H2 yield and natural gas (NG) conversion at low temperatures, compared to conventional steam reforming plants for hydrogen production, thereby representing a potential solution to reduce the energy penalty of such [...] Read more.
Pd-based membrane reactors are strongly recognized as an effective way to boost H2 yield and natural gas (NG) conversion at low temperatures, compared to conventional steam reforming plants for hydrogen production, thereby representing a potential solution to reduce the energy penalty of such a process, while keeping the lower CO2 emissions. On the other hand, the exploitation of solar energy coupled with a membrane steam reformer can further reduce the environmental impact of these systems. On this basis, the paper deals with the design activities and experimentation carried out at a pilot level in an integrated prototype where structured catalysts and Pd-based membranes are arranged together and thermally supported by solar-heated molten salts for steam reforming reaction Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Dry Reforming of Methane in a Pd-Ag Membrane Reactor: Thermodynamic and Experimental Analysis
ChemEngineering 2018, 2(4), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemengineering2040048
Received: 13 September 2018 / Revised: 2 October 2018 / Accepted: 9 October 2018 / Published: 10 October 2018
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Abstract
The present work is a study of CO2 Reforming of Methane (DRM) carried out in a catalytic Pd-based membrane reactor. A detailed thermodynamic analysis is carried out, calculating the chemical equilibrium parameters in two different cases: (a) DRM along with the Reverse [...] Read more.
The present work is a study of CO2 Reforming of Methane (DRM) carried out in a catalytic Pd-based membrane reactor. A detailed thermodynamic analysis is carried out, calculating the chemical equilibrium parameters in two different cases: (a) DRM along with the Reverse Water Gas Shift (RWGS) reaction and (b) DRM along with both RWGS and the Boudouard Reaction (BR). The performance of membrane reactor is then experimentally analyzed in terms of methane conversion, hydrogen recovery and H2/CO reaction selectivity by varying feed pressure and CO2/CH4 feed molar ratio and 500 °C and GHSV = 100 h−1. Among the obtained results, a CH4 conversion of about 26% and a H2 recovery of 47% are achieved at low feed pressures, exceeding the traditional reactor equilibrium conversion. This effect can be attributed to the favorable thermodynamics coupled to the hydrogen permeation through the membrane. This study further demonstrates the general effectiveness of membrane-integrated reaction processes, which makes the production of syngas more efficient and performing, providing important environmental benefits. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Ionic Liquid Hydrogel Composite Membranes (IL-HCMs)
ChemEngineering 2019, 3(2), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemengineering3020047
Received: 19 February 2019 / Revised: 24 April 2019 / Accepted: 26 April 2019 / Published: 5 May 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1786 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this work, novel hydrogel composites membranes comprising [2-(Methacryloyloxy)ethyl]dimethyl-(3-sulfopropyl)ammonium hydroxide as monomer, N,N-methylene bisacrylamide as cross-linker, and 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorophosphate as ionic liquid additive, have been developed. Ionic liquid hydrogel composite membranes (IL-HCMs) were tested for membrane contactors applications, aiming to reduce surface hydrophobicity [...] Read more.
In this work, novel hydrogel composites membranes comprising [2-(Methacryloyloxy)ethyl]dimethyl-(3-sulfopropyl)ammonium hydroxide as monomer, N,N-methylene bisacrylamide as cross-linker, and 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorophosphate as ionic liquid additive, have been developed. Ionic liquid hydrogel composite membranes (IL-HCMs) were tested for membrane contactors applications, aiming to reduce surface hydrophobicity of the polypropylene support, to reduce wetting tendency due to interaction with hydrophobic foulants, while affecting salts rejection in desalination operation, because of the entrapment of ILs inside the porous mesh-like structure of the gel layer. Transmembrane flux comparable to the sole polypropylene support was observed for IL content > 1 wt.%. Furthermore, all IL membranes presented a larger rejection to sodium chloride than the PP support or the composites without ionic liquid inside. Although the overall transmembrane flux of IL-HCMs developed in this work is comparable with that of state of the art MD membranes, this study demonstrated that the strong hydrophilic hydrogel layer, with C.A. < 50° for IL content larger than 1 wt.%, serves as a stabilization coating, by providing the new media between the feed and the hydrophobic membrane surface, thus potentially controlling the diffusion of hydrophobic foulant molecules. This would result in a decrease in the membrane wetting and fouling aptitude. Full article
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