Goal of the Project:
The primary objective of the POLYMEM project is to reduce the costs, energy consumption and environmental impact of CO2 capture compared with existing technologies by developing and implementing the "next generation" polymeric membranes.
The project promotes a multidisciplinary approach involving fundamental research of novel polymers, organic synthesis and polymer modification, membrane separation, process simulations and engineering. Our methodology in POLYMEM is based on modification methods with CO2-philic groups for polymers and commercial membranes and use of novel polymers. We investigate the influence of polymer structure on the thin film composite membranes preparation and on CO2 transport. We test the membranes using mixed gases in presence of water vapours similar to real flue gas. We will perform durability studies in presence of SO2 and NOx and process simulations related to cost and process parameter optimization.
The membranes are simpler, more compact and more environmentally friendly CO2 separation systems compared to other systems such as amine absorption. The membranes are the most flexible solution regarding different energy loadings and retrofitting of existent power plants due to their compact size and modular configuration/area.
In the project, we are developing new, cost-effective and high performance CO2 separation membranes, which will provide significant cost reductions for CO2 capture compared to existing membranes and to other methods such as absorption technology.
The R&D challenges in the project are related to insufficient enhancement of membrane selectivity, decreased permeance due to chemical modification, degradability of membranes. Our research methodology will effectively mitigate these challenges. The research methods to be used are based on complementary expertise and knowledge of each participant.
The scientific activity continued according to the project plan. We focus at this moment in fine tailoring the preparation of obtained membranes, characterisation and publication of results. Material and structural characterization of membranes are performed in parallel by SEM imaging, infrared spectroscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance in order to understand and optimise the preparation procedure and is correlated with the gas permeation results. We test CO2 permeability and CO2/N2 selectivity using 10% CO2/N2 mixed gases in presence of water vapours similar to real flue gas at low pressure (1.2 to 5 bar).
Our results until now show that for some membranes we obtained permeability well above the best polymeric membranes reported in literature: CO2 permeabiliy of 300-1000 Barrer and CO2/N2 selectivity from 150 to 1000.
We are in the process of patenting some of the membranes, writing the papers based on results The NTNU PhD student in the project, Jing Deng, wrote the PhD thesis which was defended successfully in 17 of January 2020.
The project increased interdisciplinary research in the fields of CO2 capture, membranes, chemical engineering and international collaboration via participations to conferences. The project developed more efficient membranes, which will thus help achieve the goals of reducing CO2 emissions. The project educated 1 PhD student, 3 master students at NTNU contributing to education of a new generation of researchers, scientists and engineers. The results were disseminated by peer reviewed articles (5 published, 3 submitted and 2 in preparation), 23 presentations and a patent application(WO2019/212360A1. The PhD Jing Deng developed a membrane preparation implemented in the CLIMIT IPN project by the company CondAlign. We obtained separation performances above those reported in literature: CO2 permeability of 300-1000 Barrer and CO2/N2 selectivity from 150 to 1000. The result makes us confident in industry interest for upscaling of membranes in a KNP/ IPN project and licensing the technology.
POLYMEM will develop new and high performance CO2 separation membranes that will provide significant cost reductions for CO2 capture compared to existent technologies: cost <40 $/ton CO2, efficiency penalty <8%. The project aims for education of 1 PhD and 3 Master students within CO2 capture technology and comprises international and national cooperation. We will develop 2-3 novel membranes with a CO2 permeance >2 m3 (STP)/(bar m2 h) and CO2/N2 selectivity >100,above state-of-the-art, tested with synthetic flue gas and industrial process conditions. Our multidisciplinary approach is based on chemically modifying in a precise and controlled manner polymers and membrane surfaces known to have the highest reported CO2 permeability but low selectivity and use of novel polymers such as rubbery organic frameworks and hydrophilic triblock copolymers. The main challenge is to obtain sufficient enhancement of CO2/N2 selectivity without decreasing the CO2 permeability present already. This will be mitigated by using several polymers, well established modifications methods and the excellent expertise of participants. POLYMEM consists in 6 interactive work packages (WP). WP1 will develop new polymers by synthesis and chemical modification for membranes fabrication in WP2. The membranes obtained in WP2 will be tested by gas permeation and durability in WP3. The feedback from WP2, membranes, will be used for polymers selection and optimization in WP1 and the feedback from WP3, gas permeation testing, will be used both in WP1 polymers and WP2 membranes for material selection and membrane optimization. In WP4 process simulations will be conducted and the feedback will be used for membrane optimization in WP3. WP5 covers project management and WP6 dissemination of results. We aim to implement the research in industry by upscaling the optimized membranes in a next stage (later projects) with involvement of membrane producers (Air Products) and end-users (STATOIL, NORCEM.