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CLIMIT-Forskning, utvikling og demo av CO2-håndtering

Membranes with Aligned nanostructures for CO2 separation

Alternative title: Membraner med opplinjerte nanostrukturer for CO2 separasjon

Awarded: NOK 7.7 mill.

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Project Period:

2018 - 2021



The International Energy Agency?s (IEA) report Energy Technology Perspectives 2020 highlights the central role that Carbon capture and storage (CCS) must play as one of four key pillars of global energy transitions to combat climate change alongside renewables-based electrification, bioenergy and hydrogen. It is estimated that 3,400 CCS plants will be needed globally by 2050 if we are to fulfil the Paris agreement and keep the global temperature rise this century below 2 degrees Celsius. Efficient and cost-effective membrane-based CO2 capture is one of the processes that is needed to make that happen. Gas separation by polymeric membranes is attractive from a process standpoint, as they offer smaller footprint and do not require the use of harmful chemicals, making this technology appealing for industrial applications. Furthermore, membrane technology is easily scalable because of the modularity, and can thus be installed on smaller facilities such as farms, waste handling plants and bio-refineries. The gas separation membranes available today are, however, not selective enough to be competitive with conventional systems. Insufficient selectivity causes too much of the unwanted gas to slip through, hampering further processing. In the MembrAlign project, the goal is to develop new and improved gas separation membranes, with selectivity more than 100. This means that for every 100 parts of CO2 transported through the membranes, no more than 1 part of nitrogen or methane can pass. The increased selectivity will be achieved by embedding advanced nanoparticles within the polymeric matrix to improve the separation performance. In addition, techniques will be developed to carefully control the orientation of the nanoparticles, allowing the full exploitation of their selective features. The project combines the membrane competence of SINTEF Industry and the membrane team at NTNU, with CondAlign's alignment technology. The project has been ongoing for nearly 4 years and is now close to its finalization. In MembrAlign, pioneering work on the understanding of the effect of particle alignment in polymeric matrices relevant for CO2-selective membranes has been performed. Early in the project we did numerical simulations of the electric fields involved in CondAlign's alignment technology. The simulations have given a better understanding of the processes and allowed us to design electrodes that improves the alignment. Three screen printing templates of different dimensions have been made from the modelling. Screen printing of electrodes on glass was performed, and alignment demonstrated with the most promising design. Later in the project we transitioned to screen printing on flexible materials (PET). During the course of the project we have tested several polymers for use as the selective layer on various porous supports and assessed the compatibility. Many combinations of particles, polymers and solvents have been evaluated to optimize the particle dispersion. We have performed permeability measurements of numerous free-standing films and asymmetric membranes. We have demonstrated that particle alignment has a positive effect on the membrane performance and showed that we can increase the permeability without detriment to the selectivity. Initially, it was challenging to obtain materials for testing that were both membrane-relevant and Condalign-compatible. A porous membrane support on a roll was one of the most considerable material components we received in 2020. The roll enabled us to produce the first samples on a roll to roll (R2R) machine and is of great importance for the upscaling of the product. In 2021 we focused almost entirely on commercially available materials, to make a potential commercialization easier. We found complete systems of porous support, polymer matrix and selective particles that works well together with the CondAlign process. Many of the commercially interesting polymers for membrane separation are solvent-based. CondAlign?s R2R equipment has been developed primarily for UV-curing, but we have in the project adapted the equipment to handle small amounts of solvent. In 2021 we produced the first prototypes of electrically aligned asymmetric membranes on R2R. To demonstrate further scale-up of solvent-based membranes, we also rented machine time on a solvent capable R2R line in Sweden to do coating trials. Two patent applications were filed at the end of 2019 and the first of these was granted in Norway in October 2021. The initial response on the international PCT-applications are expected by mid 2022. After the patent applications was filed, we could finally start to convey our results in public. wrote a paper about us in 2020, and we presented at ICOM in December 2020. Some of the project results were as well presented during the TechConnect Europe conference in 2021.

MembrAlign-prosjektet har gitt CondAlign et nytt applikasjonsområde for sin opplinjeringsteknologi, med potensielt stor kommersiell verdi. Vi har i prosjektet sendt inn to patentsøknader, hvorav en allerede er innvilget, og publisert resultater både i populærvitenskapelige og faglige fora. Forbedrede membraner for CO2 fangst har også vesentlig samfunnsnytte som et ledd i det grønne skiftet. CondAlign etablerte i 2019 et datterselskap, CondAlign Capture AS for å eie, synliggjøre og videreutvikle prosjektresultatene. Prosjektet er gjennomført i tett samarbeid mellom Condalign, SINTEF og NTNU. Samarbeidet mellom membrangruppen på SINTEF og Condalign er allerede videreført i et annet prosjekt under KAPPA-programmet, som forsker på forbedrede bipolare plater i brenselsceller. Det foreligger også en forskningssøknad fra NTNU, som ønsker å studere CondAligns teknologi i andre membrananvendelser. MembrAlign-prosjektet var kimen til all denne aktiviteten.

CondAlign AS (CA), er et norsk teknologiselskap som er en spin-off fra IFE. Bedriften innehar flere patenter og patentsøknader på hvordan elektriske felt kan brukes til å strukturere og opplinjere partikler i en polymerfilm og dermed skape nye, innovative materialer og produkter. CA har så langt fokusert på utvikling og fremstilling av elektrisk og termisk ledende polymerfilmer. I MembrAlign-prosjektet vil CAs opplinjeringsteknologi benyttes til å lage nye og forbedrede gass-separasjonsmembraner for CO2-separasjon. CAs teknologi er unik i seg selv, og i kombinasjon med SINTEF/NTNUs spisskompetanse på membraner og funksjonaliserte partikler vil forskningen i dette prosjektet åpne for banebrytende nye hybridmembraner. Innovasjonen i dette prosjektet vil være et gjennombrudd internasjonalt, og gjøre membranseparasjon av CO2 til en reell fremtidig løsning for CO2-håndtering. Hybridmembraner viser separasjonsytelser langt bedre enn konvensjonelle polymermembraner, men har utfordringer relatert til god kjemisk kompatibilitet mellom partiklene og polymeren, i tillegg til agglomerering av partiklene. Form og orientering av partiklene er også viktige faktorer for membranytelsen, men det har hittil vært lite forskning på aktiv endring av orienteringen til partiklene. CAs teknologi er i denne sammenhengen disruptiv fordi den muliggjør en kontrollert nanostrukturering av partiklene i polymermatrisen. MembrAlign-prosjektet vil ha en tverrfaglig tilnærming som involverer materialtesting, partikkelopplinjering, avansert karakterisering samt simulering og testing av membraner under realistiske forhold. Prosjektet muliggjøres gjennom et samarbeid mellom en ung og innovativ bedrift (CA), et forskningsinstitutt (SINTEF) og akademia (NTNU).

Publications from Cristin

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CLIMIT-Forskning, utvikling og demo av CO2-håndtering