Separation of acidic gases using hollow fibre membrane contractors
Gas absorption in hollow fibre contactors is being increasingly used due to their enormous surface area/volume ratio. The capability of the hollow fibre membrane modules for the removal of CO 2 and SO2 from a binary gas mixture has been investigated experimentally. Four different modules were used in this study. The membranes in modules one and two were made of microporous polypropylene. The third module was made of non-porous silicone rubber (polydimethylsiloxane) while the latter one was a polyvinylidenefluoride (PVDF) asymmetric hollow fibre membrane. The gas mixtures used in the experiments were composed of 9.5% CO2 and 1% SO2 in N 2 , which was introduced into the hollow fibre lumen, while the absorbent liquid was fed into the shell side of module. The absorbent liquids used were water, aqueous solutions of diethanolamine (DBA) and ammonia at different concentrations (5, 10 and 20 wt%). The effects of different operating conditions on the permeation process have been investigated for co-current and counter-current flow patterns. In addition, to improve the silicone rubber hollow fibre membrane performance, baffles were installed within the shell of the permeator to increase liquid fibre contact. The results obtained showed that the use of baffles within the shell of the permeator improved the separation performance of the non-porous membrane module without any substantial increase in the physical size of the contacting device. Studies also showed that improved performance was observed when the system was operated under a counter-current flow pattern. The results showed that the use of an absorbent liquid in the permeate side of the fibres increased the selectivity of the membranes used, and reduced the need to maintain a high pressure ratio across the membrane. A decrease in the feed gas flow rate or increase in liquid flow rate generally improved the removal of gases. The results showed that the use of aqueous reactive solutions as an absorbing medium in the permeate side of the hollow fibre permeator can significantly improve CO2 removal from the gas mixture. However, the main problem when using a microporous membrane coupled with aqueous solutions of diethanolamine as absorbent was wetting of the microporous membrane by amine solutions. For 862 separation, the highest removal was attained using the microporous membrane coupled with water as absorbent liquid. This demonstrates that a hollow fibre based device can be a very efficient gas liquid contactor. The separation process was simulated with a numerical model based on the effective permeabilities of gases and compared with the experimental results. The model simulations showed good agreement with the experimental observations.