A purification money saver (Day 39)

Abstract filterWhat do these purification processes have in common: distillation, extraction, chromatography, adsorption, and crystallization?

All can be energy or materials intensive. In other words – expensive.

Some professionals in the purification business will often quote phrases like: “It is generally accepted that separation processes account for between 40-70 per cent of both the capital and operating costs in industry.”

Not surprisingly, there’s lots of interest in finding new ways to drive down these weighty costs.

Over the past few decades we’ve seen the advent of reverse osmosis and nanofiltration for separation of ions and other molecules.

But in the past few years we’ve seen the emergence of a new process with major cost saving potential – membrane separation of molecules dissolved in organic liquids or Organic Solvent Nanofiltration (OSN).

Some data suggests that OSN requires less than 10 per cent of the energy of thermal separation techniques such as distillation.

There’s another benefit too. Until recently, industrial applications of molecular separation techniques have been limited to the treatment of wastewater, desalination, and the food and beverage sector. OSN has applications across many more chemical-related industry sectors.

OSN was originally developed by Imperial College London’s chemical engineering department which set-up Membrane Extraction Technology (MET) Ltd – a chemical separations specialist.

MET is now owned by Evonik Industries who market the technology under the DuraMem® and PuraMem® brands and has applications in sectors including pharmaceutical, oil, bulk chemicals and natural oils and products.

A great development and significant sea change in one of the most traditional and fundamental areas of chemical engineering.