An efficient and energy-saving technology for fluid separation

Pervaporation is a technique for the separation of materials based on the principle of evaporating a liquid through a dense membrane. Contrary to simple evaporation as applied in a distillation process, the membrane changes the composition of the charge by combining two complementary processes that are less energy intensive: permeation and evaporation.

Pervaporation is applied to the removal of volatile compounds out of solutions through a selective membrane. By creating a vacuum or introducing a flow of purge gas on one side of a dense membrane, volatile compounds in a liquid present on the other side will tend to diffuse through the membrane. Pervaporation is usually applied to the dehydration of organic solutions or the removal of organic contaminants in an aqueous solution. In addition to its high energetic efficiency, due to the use of a dense membrane, pervaporation is not subjected to azeotropic limitations.

Pervaporation integrated in a microfluidic device

For the sake of intensification and to perform the pervaporation process in a controlled environment, we integrated the process in a microfluidic device, enabling a reduced footprint. The modelling of a microfluidic pervaporation device associated with an optimisation algorithm allows us to identify the best outcome of the process based on the mixture thermodynamic properties. Therefore, we can easily evaluate the feasibility of the pervaporation process and propose a design. Subsequently, tests at a low scale should allow us to validate the model, after which the pervaporation device could be manufactured and instrumented.