Advantages And Disadvantages Of Membrane Contactors

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Abstract – Since the advent of membrane contactors as means of separation alternative to conventional techniques of separation, such as distillation towers, packed bed towers, research has been done on membranes so as to industrialize the whole process for large plants. The membrane contactors provide significant advantage over the more traditional separation tools and hence, are being increasingly used. The researchers have, though, realized a major disadvantage associated with membrane contactors. The membrane used for liquid-gas or liquid-liquid contact undergoes a phenomenon, referred to as wetting, which primarily involves the liquid entering the pores of the membrane in the gas-liquid separation (or either of the two liquids in the case…show more content…
The traditional mass-transfer equipment has been known to have several disadvantages such as flooding, weeping, entrainment, channeling, etc. Further, the above mentioned operational problems were in addition to the technical scale up problems that were faced while the installation of such equipment. The preparation prior to industrial set-up generally required designing, appropriate small scale testing, pilot plant testing and finally industrial scale test, before the system went into operation. Such elaborate preparations required large amount of capital as well as physical space as the separation equipment, is most generally extremely large and occupies huge area. The introduction of membrane separators was a major breakthrough as the membrane separation techniques do away with all such problems. The membrane separators generally have a very high selectivity for a particular component (which is aimed to be separated) in the absorption process, as well as they are compact and modular, which essentially means that the scale-up is not an issue with the membrane separators. Their other advantages include very high surface to volume ratio, which can also be calculated (whereas in columns, such as distillation or packed column, contact surface area is unknown and cannot be estimated), and are flexible in operation as they separate gas liquid flows which can be independently controlled as well as

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