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DICP Researchers Develop a Catalytic Membrane Reactor for Reaction-Separation-Reaction Coupling
  English.dicp.cas.cn    Posted:2016-06-17    From:Group 504

Prof. YANG Weishen's group from State Key Laboratory of Catalysis proposed the concept of simultaneously producing ammonia synthesis gas (ASG) and liquid fuel synthesis gas (LFSG) in one mixed ionic-electronic conducting membrane reactor and demonstrated it. Proving simultaneously producing synthesis gases for ammonia and liquid fuel in one membrane reactor is feasible. The paper was published in Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (DOI: 10.1002/anie.201602207).

Concept of the one-step production of the two synthesis gases for ammonia and liquid fuel in a membrane reactor (Image by LI Wenping and ZHU Xuefeng)

Ammonia synthesis and liquid fuel synthesis via Fischer-Tropsch process are two important processes in chemical industry. The preparations of the two types of synthesis gases are very critical for ammonia and liquid fuel synthesis. However, in industrial processes, six steps are required to convert cleaned natural gas to ammonia synthesis gas (ASG, H2/N2=3) and three steps to liquid fuel synthesis gas (LFSG, H2/CO=2).The complicated technologies for ASG and LFSG production consume huge energy. (For example, the ASG production step contributes to ~84 % energy consumption in the whole ammonia synthesis process.) Besides, industrial process for ASG production is accompanied by a large amount of CO2 emission.

To solve the above problems, the concept of simultaneously producing ASG and LFSG in one mixed ionic-electronic conducting membrane reactor was proposed and demonstrated by experiments, i.e. 18.8 mL cm-2 min-1 ASG production rate accompanied with 45.6 mL cm-2 min-1 LFSG production rate. That is to say, for a factory with a production capability of 0.3 million tons ammonia and 1 million tons methanol per year, the required synthesis gases can be simultaneously produced in the membrane reactor with a membrane area of 7500 square meters, which corresponds a membrane reactor volume of just 75 cubic meters.

The figure shows the concept of the membrane reactor for simultaneously producing ASG and LFSG is effective. Air and water with an appropriate ratio are fed to one side (side I) of the membrane, while methane is fed to the other side (side II). At high temperatures, driving by high oxygen partial pressure gradient across the membrane, oxygen from air and water splitting on side I permeate through the MIEC membrane via diffusion of oxygen ions to side II, where they react with methane to form LFSG, meanwhile electrons migrate from side II to side I to keep the electric neutrality of the whole process. The resultant gases on side I with a suitable H2/N2 ratio are ready for ammonia synthesis after drying. Compared with industrial processes for ASG and LFSG production, the membrane reactor has many advantages: high process intensification (shortening the six-step process for ASG production and three-step process for LFSG production to a one-step process), ~63 % energy saving than the traditional complex processes; high safety; environmental friendly and clean ASG product.

This work was supported by Natural Science Foundation of China,Chinese Academy of Sciences and DICP DMTO project. (Text/Image by LI Wenping and ZHU Xuefeng)

Dr. LU Xinyi

Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences,

457 Zhongshan Road, Dalian, 116023, China,

Tel: 86-411-84379201,

E-mail: luxinyi@dicp.ac.cn 

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