A brief history of the development of separation membrane technology

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With the increasing demand of modern industry in the control of environmental pollution, energy conservation, raw material recycling and other aspects, membrane separation technology has been rapidly developed as a simple process, low energy consumption, no pollution to the environment, easy to scale up, mild operating conditions, easy to combine with other processes, efficient separation technology.This separation technology has developed very rapidly in the past 30 years, and has been effectively applied to the fields of energy, chemical industry, metallurgy, food processing, pharmacy, biochemistry, gas separation, etc. It has not only formed a new independent technology industry, but also influenced the development of related industries, and has become an important part of the economic sustainable development strategy.

membrane technology

It was Nollet's observation in 1748 that water could pass through a pig's bladder and into alcohol without external force that caught its attention: osmosis. However, it did not attract widespread attention until the discovery of dialysis phenomenon in the mid-19th century, which led to the study of membrane separation phenomenon, and Fick's law laid a solid foundation for the study of diffusion phenomenon, dialysis, gas separation and other aspects. Since the 20th century, some basic theories about membrane separation have appeared, and gradually began to study some new membrane separation technologies, such as ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, Donnan electrodialysis, and other initial studies. At the same time, the basic membrane potential of electrodialysis and electrode was studied, and the initial research of artificial kidney was started. In 1950, the successful development of the first ion-exchange membrane with application value made the development of electrodialysis technology enter a new period. In the 1970s, ultrafiltration technology entered industrial applications. Beginning in the 1980s, Henis and Tripodi's research work contributed greatly to the application of membrane separation technology to the field of gas separation, which led to the industrial application of gas separation technology, such as Dow Company developed a gas separation device that can collect nitrogen in the air and bring it to the market. In 1988, 150,000 liters of anhydrous alcohol per day was developed by the former GFT company, this unit was built in France, and the use of pervaporation can achieve the separation of MeOH/MTBE, making pervaporation research further. New membrane separation processes have been developed since the 1990s, such as membrane extraction for liquid-liquid separation. Membrane absorption for gas-liquid separation, membrane vacuum distillation, membrane gas stripping, etc. The application of membrane separation technology in some important industries has been paid more and more attention by membrane researchers, and has become a new hot spot.

China began to study ion exchange membrane in 1958, began to study reverse osmosis membrane in the 1960s, and paid attention to the research in seawater desalination, to a large extent promoted the development of membrane science and technology in China, in the 1970s reverse osmosis, microfiltration, ultrafiltration, electrodialysis and other devices were gradually developed, and put into industrial applications. In the 1980s, in addition to the research on liquid separation, the development and research on gas membrane separation and pervaporation have also begun. Other new technologies are also under constant research and development.

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