Substitute green solvents for the production of polymeric membranes

Magueijo, Vitor and Tung, Chad Ben and Lue, Leo (2016) Substitute green solvents for the production of polymeric membranes. In: ChemEng Day UK, 2016-03-31 - 2016-04-01, University of Bath.

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Membrane separation technologies are cleaner and environmentally friendlier than conventional separation processes due to their energy efficiency, selectivity, flexibility and simplicity of scale-up. However, paradoxically, the industrial production of membranes relies on multicomponent polymer-solvent systems based on harmful organic solvents with very poor environmental, health and safety (EHS) characteristics. The concerns associated with the reproductive toxicity, carcinogenicity and mutagenicity of typical membrane production solvents and their placement under restrictive regulations are pushing businesses to find adequate alternatives that follow the tenets of health safety, low environmental toxicity and sustainability. Such alternatives are usually known as “green solvents”. Because “harmful solvent workhorses” of the membrane manufacturing industry continue to be at the core of production processes optimized over years (sometimes decades) of research and development, in the industrial drive to find alternative green solvents, the maintenance of process performance is key and as important as EHS considerations. This means that some membrane manufacturing companies need to make tough choices and strike a good balance between maintaining process performance and respond to regulatory pressure. Each membrane production process has different specificities/needs and this means that it is not possible to obtain a definitive set of green solvents capable of substituting problematic solvents in all membrane manufacturing processes. With that in mind, we present a holistic methodology that attempts to help academic and industrial membrane researchers in the pursuit of tailored solutions.