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Membrane engineering in process intensification—An overview

Drioli, Enrico, Stankiewicz, Andrzej I., Macedonio, Francesca
Journal of membrane science 2011 v.380 no.1-2 pp. 1-8
artificial membranes, capital, commercialization, cost effectiveness, energy, energy conservation, energy use and consumption, engineering, environmental impact, equipment, manufacturing, raw materials
One of the crucial challenges currently facing the world is “to support sustainable industrial growth”. A possible solution is offered by process intensification (PI), a design approach offering concrete benefits in manufacturing and processing, substantially shrinking equipment size, boosting plant efficiency, saving energy, reducing capital costs, increasing safety, minimizing environmental impact and maximizing the raw materials exploitation. Membrane processes address the goals of PI because they have the potential to replace conventional energy-intensive techniques, to accomplish the selective and efficient transport of specific components, and to improve the performance of reactive processes. On a number of occasions, commercial conventional separation processes in industry were converted to membrane separation processes with significant reductions in cost, energy, and environmental impact. This paper discusses how membrane engineering contributes to realization of the principles of process intensification. An overview of current developments in the field of membrane operations and their place in the intensification of chemical manufacturing and processing is presented. Several cases of successfully commercialized technologies are discussed in detail. Finally, the opportunity to integrate conventional membrane units with innovative membrane systems or into existing industrial processes is also emphasized.