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Separation of Sulfur Hexafluoride from a Nitrogen/Sulfur Hexafluoride Mixture Using a Polymer Hollow Fiber Membrane

Choi, Jae-Woo, Lee, Soonjae, An, Byungryul, Kim, Song-Bae, Lee, Sang-Hyup
Water, air, and soil pollution 2014 v.225 no.2 pp. 1807
atmosphere, byproducts, commercialization, energy efficiency, equipment, gases, global warming, insulating materials, nitrogen, permeability, photolysis, sulfur hexafluoride, toxicity
Sulfur hexafluoride (SF₆) has been evaluated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the substance with the highest global warming index. Because of its superior insulating and arc clearing capacities, it is commonly used as an insulator in electrical machines. SF₆waste products form in the process of storing, maintaining, and repairing the machines. SF₆emitted into the atmosphere remains for 3,200 years, causing global warming. Release into the mesosphere leads to photolysis and creation of highly toxic and corrosive by-products. A review of the literature related to the retrieval and separation of SF₆using a separating membrane indicates that research on the permeability of the separating membrane material is lacking. Additionally, research on the concentrations of the SF₆waste products and the separation/retrieval with operating conditions with optimal energy efficiency is only in the initial stages. Therefore, this research assessed the permeability of commercialized separation membranes polysulfone (PSf), polycarbonate (PC), and polyimide (PI) using the gases SF₆and N₂. Using an SF₆/N₂mixture with the same concentration as the SF₆waste products, we studied the separation and retrieval capacities of PSf, PC, and PI separation membranes under varying operating conditions. The permeability tests showed that the selective permeability of N₂/SF₆is highest for the PI membrane and lowest for the PC membrane. When the concentrations of SF₆retrieved from the mixture separation process were compared, the PC membrane was found to be the highest, with 95.6 % at 0.5 MPa. The retrieval percentage of SF₆was highest for PSf, with 97.8 % at an operating pressure of 0.3 MPa and a waste production of 150 cm³/min. The retrieval rates and retrieval failure rates have an inverse relationship. In total, 99 % of the supply of SF₆was identified via the retrieval rates and retrieval failure rates, so it could be confirmed that the separation of the SF₆/N₂mixture using a macromolecular hollow fiber separation membrane works properly.