Membrane Development

Membrane-based gas separation is an increasingly viable and cost-effective alternative (or complement) to traditional separation technology. At RTI, we develop novel membrane-based processes for industrial gas separation applications (such as CO2 separation) in collaboration with industry, the U.S. Department of Energy, and universities.

Synthesis and Characterization

Our researchers are highly skilled in synthesizing thin-film polymer composite membranes and nanocomposite polymer membranes that incorporate particles with beneficial properties. We effectively evaluate and screen novel membranes for various industrial applications using a wide range of techniques and analytical equipment:

  • Energy dispersive X-ray analysis
  • Mechanical stability
  • TGA
  • Pore size and surface area measure
  • Mechanical stability
  • SEM and TEM
  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • DSC

Testing

We maintain a sophisticated laboratory that allows for a wide range of gas permeance and sorption testing on both client- and RTI-developed membranes. We test at various pressures, temperatures, and in different gas environments to determine the long-term effects of realistic gas environments on membrane performance:

  • Multi-component gas mixtures
  • High pressure (up to 1,500 psia)
  • High temperature (up to 350°C)
  • Toxic and corrosive gases (CO, H2S, CO2, SO2, etc.)
  • Humidified gas mixtures

Process Design, Simulation, and Pilot Operation

We have a dedicated staff of engineers with extensive experience in process design, engineering, and modeling—critical elements in developing economically-feasible membrane technologies. Process design and simulation is used to set targets for membrane properties and performance and to assist scale-up of our most promising membranes to pilot scale. We have also developed our own simulation software package, which is AspenPlus® and HYSYS compatible, for modeling multicomponent gas separation in a hollow-fiber membrane contactor.




Examples of RTI-Developed Membranes


  • Reverse-selective polymeric membranes for acid gas removal from syngas
  • Hydrogen-selective polymer membranes to purify hydrogen from syngas
  • Fluorinated polymer membrane and process for CO2 capture in power plants