Integration of reaction and separation steps - membrane systems
We are developing new processes for the integration of reaction and separation steps in bi-phasic systems with a range of applications including:
- Recyclability of homogeneous catalysts
- Reactions in emulsions
- Continuous production of materials by phase-inversion processes.
Our approach consists of the formation of temporary dispersions of one phase into the other in the absence of surfactants, where the resulting dispersion or emulsion is only stable for a certain period of time when the reaction will take place after which separation takes place without energy input. Reaction times can be tuned by recycling the solutions in order to modulate the final degree of conversion, providing flexibility to the system.
Scalability of such technologies is achieved by the use of semi-continuous membrane systems.
This concept has been applied to the formation of cellulosic porous materials with controllable sizes in an Innovative UK project in collaboration with Johnson Matthey, Sharp and MAST Carbon.