Membranes for environmentally friendly energy processes

Xuezhong He, May Britt Hägg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Membrane separation systems require no or very little chemicals compared to standard unit operations. They are also easy to scale up, energy efficient, and already widely used in various gas and liquid separation processes. Different types of membranes such as common polymers, microporous organic polymers, fixed-site-carrier membranes, mixed matrix membranes, carbon membranes as well as inorganic membranes have been investigated for CO2 capture/removal and other energy processes in the last two decades. The aim of this work is to review the membrane systems applied in different energy processes, such as post-combustion, pre-combustion, oxyfuel combustion, natural gas sweetening, biogas upgrading, hydrogen production, volatile organic compounds (VOC) recovery and pressure retarded osmosis for power generation. Although different membranes could probably be used in a specific separation process, choosing a suitable membrane material will mainly depend on the membrane permeance and selectivity, process conditions (e.g., operating pressure, temperature) and the impurities in a gas stream (such as SO2, NOx, H2S, etc.). Moreover, process design and the challenges relevant to a membrane system are also being discussed to illustrate the membrane process feasibility for a specific application based on process simulation and economic cost estimation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)706-726
Number of pages21
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Biogas upgrading
  • Flues gas
  • Hydrogen production
  • Membrane
  • Natural gas sweetening
  • Pressure retarded osmosis
  • VOC recovery


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