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Efficient Affinity Separations for CHEMical Applications

Water 'fit-for-use'
2019 to 2023
VITO (coordinator), UGent, UAntwerpen, KULeuven, UHasselt, UCL

Many chemical companies are nowadays confronted with very challenging liquid separations, aiming at separating  molecules  with  very  similar  physical  properties.  The  current  trend  towards  more  bio-based  and/or highly-tailored chemicals, will only increase the number of these demanding separations. These challenges would benefit from efficient Affinity Separations (AS). The most traditional AS technology is liquid-liquid extraction, where the extracting solvent acts as the separation agent (ASA). The most selective AS is liquid chromatography, driven by the affinity between molecules and a functionalised stationary phase, the separation material (ASM). Although successful in different  situations,  both  AS  processes  have  important  drawbacks.  EasiChem  aims  at  tackling  these limitations,  by  developing  more  efficient,  and/or  more  sustainable  AS  processes,  focusing  on  two promising, energy-poor liquid separation technologies :

1.  Membrane-based  AS  processes  :  bringing  the  selectivity  of  chromatography  to  membrane separations, using functionalised ceramic membranes tailored to match the separation problem;

2.  Continuous chromatography : tackling the main disadvantage of selective chromatography, making use of a membrane-contactor-like design at microreactor scale.

The work programme is intended to extensively explore, understand and benchmark the capabilities and limitations of the new AS processes using a myriad of functionalized ceramic materials.

EASiCHEM scheme.jpg

CAPTURE staff involved