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A Low Energy Alternative for Chemical Separations?

July 19, 2019 / Technology Networks

Chemical manufacturers consume a massive amount of energy each year separating and refining feedstocks to make a wide variety of products including gasoline, plastics and food. In a bid to reduce the amount of energy used in chemical separations, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are working on membranes that could separate chemicals without using energy-intensive distillation processes. “The vast majority of separations out in the field in a variety of industries are thermally-driven systems such as distillation, and because of that we spend an inordinate amount of energy on these separation processes – something like 10 to 15 percent of the global energy budget is spent on chemical separations,” said Ryan Lively, an associate professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering.  “Separations that avoid the use of heat and a chemical phase-change are much less energy intense. In practice, using them could pr...