Finding greener processes

Gas adsorption and separation is used in a range of applications including industrial, medical and environmental. Finding new energy efficient techniques for gas separation and purification directly benefits the companies that use them. It allows them to develop better products and processes while meeting today's increasing environmental challenges.

Using less energy for better performance

Researchers in our Department of Chemical Engineering's Centre for Advanced Separations Engineering developed novel adsorbent materials for specific gas separation and purification.

They developed high separation performance in gases at a very much reduced pressure drop. These low pressure drops are desirable because less energy is consumed to perform each gas separation or purification. A lower energy solution is a much more sustainable option for industry.

Adsorbents are most commonly available in granular form. Energy is lost through pressure drop caused by skin friction as the gas flows over the surface. It's also lost from form drag as the gas flows in and around the granular materials. The team discovered that energy loss from form drag was the main issue, so they directed their efforts to designing materials that eliminate as much form drag as possible.

Their solution used highly structure materials made up of straight channels in the form of hollow fibres or monoliths to eliminate the 'tortuous gas flows' caused by traditional granular materials.

Helping companies be more efficient

Using novel, highly structured materials has led to more energy efficient gas separation and purification in products and processes. This has helped companies to meet legislative emission limits, as well as creating healthier workplaces, and recovering valuable resources for reuse.

It's had important business and economic impact in two small-to-medium size enterprises: Nano-Porous Solutions, who develop new products for energy efficient gas separation for environmental and medical applications; and MAST Carbon International Ltd, who supply advanced carbon materials for separations, reactions and environmental protection.

Making an impact

This research was part of our REF 2014 submission for Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering.