Membranes can recover water from flue gases

Improved gas-separation membranes could be used to capture water from factory flue-gases, according to 10 years’ research and testing under the leadership of the energy services firm KEMA, in collaboration with the European Membrane Institute at the University of Twente and a number of Dutch utilities.

Now, KEMA, under contract to the European Union, together with 13 partners from Europe, the Middle East and Africa, has started with the development of a number of large-scale tests at power stations in Spain and Israel, a geothermal well in Tunisia and paper factories in the Netherlands and South Africa. These tests ought to clear the way for industrial production and large-scale implementation of this new technology.

KEMA reports that so much high-grade water can be recovered from flue gases of certain factory chimneys, as a result of strongly improved membrane technology, that industrial plants in arid areas can make a valuable contribution to the world water shortage. Suitable industries would be those that require a lot of water for cooling applications, for generating steam or for drying processes, as in the food, paper, cement, energy and petrochemical sectors.

Tests in industrial plants in the Netherlands and Germany have demonstrated that at least 40% of the water in the flue gases can be recovered with the new membrane technology, where previously researchers counted on a recovery of 20%. This means that an average power plant of 400 MW can supply twice as much water as it needs for steam generation.

The quality of the recovered water is so high that it can be employed not only for deminarilized water use for industry but also for consumption purposes. For this reason there are three African partners in the consortium and two from the Middle East.

The new project bears the name CapWa, ‘Capture of evaporated Water with novel membranes’.

Participants in the project (in alphabetical order) are:

Brabant Water (the Netherlands),
Gas Natural Fenosa (Spain)
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (Institute for Membrane Technology, Italy),
Cut GmbH & Co KG (Germany),
École Nationale d’Ingénieurs de Tunis (Tunisia),
Israel Electric Corporation Ltd. (Israel),
KEMA (the Netherlands),
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology Kumasi (Ghana),
Membrana GmbH (Germany),
Papiertechnische Stiftung (Germany),
Sappi Ltd (South Africa & the Netherlands),
Stichting Kenniscentrum Papier en Karton (the Netherlands),
University of Twente – European Membrane Institute (the Netherlands),
Yodfat Engineers Ltd (Israel).