Advanced Polymer Membranes for the Purification of Hydrogen and Other Gases

Background Current methods for carbon dioxide removal and hydrogen purification are not only very expensive but also cause large losses of gas and use toxic chemicals. The hydrogen required in the refining business is generated through costly, toxic, and inefficient systems like steam methane reforming and pressure swing adsorption. Furthermore, most polymer membranes used for membrane purification systems are more permeable to small molecules (e.g., hydrogen) than to larger molecules (e.g., carbon dioxide). Less permeability requires costly repressurization of the valuable small molecule streams (hydrogen).

Invention Description This invention incorporates nanotechnology to form an advanced rubbery polymer membrane. Dr. Freeman's membrane has a huge increase in permeability with little or no loss of selectivity. Increases in permeability are on the order of 10x to 100x greater than commercially available membranes such as Matrimid and Ultem. These membranes can be tailored for permeability and selectivity by using different membrane polymer matrices, making them versatile enough to filter and purify a wide range of gases.


Increases permeability Little to no loss in selectivity Reduces driving force (power) and membrane area required to achieve a desired gas flux Non-toxic method More efficient, simple, and compact than current hydrogen or methane purification techniques Less costly than current hydrogen and methane purification techniques Improves mechanical properties of the membrane


Selectively removes acid or polar gases (e.g. CO2, H2S) from mixtures with light gases (H2, N2, CH4)
High acid gas permeability High selectivity of acid gases over nonpolar gases Purified hydrogen gas (or other light gas) remains pressurized Highly selective for CO2 and H2S Can be customized for specific permeability and selectivity of desired gases 10x to 100x greater permeability

Market Potential/Applications Current annual hydrogen production stands at approximately 9 million tons in the United States, with worldwide consumption at 50 million tons and growing at 10% per year. Based on these numbers, even small increases in the efficiency of hydrogen production could lead to enormous savings. With a growing emphasis on the U.S. hydrogen economy, a less costly source of pure hydrogen will be required to power the next generation fuel cell vehicles. Moreover, this technology can be applied in the purification of other gases, including the removal of CO2 and H2S from natural gas. Dr. Freeman's technology can also be applied in the dehydration of compressed air and natural gas as well as purification of nitrogen.

Development Stage Proof of concept

IP Status One U.S. patent application filed

UT Researcher Benny D. Freeman, Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin Haiqing Lin, Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin Scott T. Matteucci, B.S., Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

Type of Offer: Licensing

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