Process Economics Program Report 190A
Membrane Gas Separation Processes
Published: January 1990
The coverage of PEP Report 190 on the membranes themselves was extended in this report on separation processes. The technology and economics of typical gas-phase processes were evaluated and compared with those of conventional processes.
Advances in membrane technology in areas such as reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration have led to the development and commercial introduction of membranes for large-scale industrial gas separations. This report studies four major applications--nitrogen production from air, oxygen-enriched air, hydrogen recovery from ammonia purge gas, and carbon dioxide separation from methane. Process economics for each application are presented, based on a preliminary process design. Competing separation operations are reviewed and competitive economics are evaluated for air separation by pressure swing adsorption.
A technical review presents the essential criteria for designing on-site systems and membrane system attributes that affect economic competitiveness. Process design features required for the different industrial gas separations are also summarized, and the types of procedures employed to determine membrane area requirements are briefly described.
Finally, gas membrane system development activity by major world regions is presented, along with a review of the main market segments and a list of current and potential applications for gas membrane separation technology. Also, a look at the major supplier's technology and market position is presented, along with an SRI estimate of the number of currently installed units.