Recovery Act - Novel Membrane Reactor for the Manufacture and Purification of THF
The conventional process for making dry tetrahydrofuran is very energy intensive because of the need for azeotropic distillation. Substituting distillation by membrane drying can reduce the energy consumption for heating by a factor of 50. A membrane based process for purifying tetrahydrofuran with 98% less energy consumption than with a conventional azeotropic distillation process has been demonstrated. In addition, the use of a super acid catalyst that is at least seven times more efficient in driving the butanediol to tetrahydrofuran reaction than mineral acid catalysts was proven. These catalytic groups can be attached to the membrane. Therefore the membrane reactor catalyst is not corrosive and there is no need for additional processes to separate it from the reactants or products. Feasibility was shown for all key aspects of the Phase I program. Enhanced performance based on identifying and developing a whole new family of custom perfluoropolymers for both enhancing tetrahydrofuran synthesis and more broadly addressing key membrane needs of the Department of Energy has been demonstrated. Optimize and scale up the membrane catalyst and fabrication of pilot-scale membrane modules will be completed. Pilot tests will demonstrate module performance, ruggedness and durability. The modules will also be tested and demonstrated in the field in partnership with a pharmaceutical company that uses tetrahydrofuran as a solvent. Detailed engineering/economic analysis will demonstrate very significant savings in energy, operating and capital costs of the catalytic membrane process for making and purifying tetrahydrofuran over the conventional system using mineral acid catalysts and isotropic distillation. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Besides tetrahydrofuran, there are many organic chemicals that require acid catalysts for its manufacture. Hence, this is a platform technology. Its success will have a significant impact related to major energy savings in industrial processes using new membrane processes to dewater organic chemicals like tetrahydrofuran and acid catalysts needed to drive reactions that produce water, e.g., butanediol to tetrahydrofuran+water. Specific program focus will be on the reduction of costs for making high purity organic chemicals. Estimated payback time is less than 1 year.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Compact Membrane Systems, Inc.
335 Water Street Newport, DE 19804
Number of Employees: