October 17, 2013


NEDO Develops Inorganic Separation Membrane for Energy-Efficient Distillation Process

Keywords: Chemicals Environmental Technology University / Research institute 

New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) announced on June 24, 2013 that it has successfully developed an inorganic separation membrane that helps reduce energy consumption during the distillation process at petrochemical plants. The development team included NEDO, Waseda University, JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation, Hitachi Zosen Corporation, Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, Chiyoda Corporation and Noritake Co.

Refining and separation involves a distillation process whose energy consumption is said to account for approximately 40 percent of total energy consumption of a chemical plant. The new inorganic membrane, if integrated in the distillation process, is expected to reduce energy consumption by more than half.

The team developed an inorganic membrane that can dewater isopropyl alcohol (IPA)-water mixtures and established a production technique for a one-meter long membrane element with superior separation capabilities. From February 2013, the new membrane was tested for its performance on a test device set up at an actual IPA plant (treatment speed, 60 kg/h), and has become the first such device to successfully undergo 200 hours of consecutive operation.

The new membrane will be further evaluated for its separation performance and durability under an actual operational environment. The team will then consider expanding the experimental scale in fiscal 2014 to achieve early practical application.