Dehydration of alcohol solutions obtained from a solvent recovery process by pervaporation

Büküşoğlu, Emre
Solvent recovery is gaining importance in the chemical production processes to reduce the costs and because of environmental concerns. Therefore separation schemes for recovery and recycle of solvents used in printing and packaging industry were developed. However, a low value by-product, mainly ethyl alcohol and isopropanol, is obtained during the solvent recovery process. If the water concentration of this mixture is decreased below 0.1% by weight, the value of it increases significantly. To dehydrate this stream, a pervaporation-adsorption separation scheme is developed in this study. The effect of pervaporation process parameters, such as temperature, feed flow rate, permeate side pressure, feed water and ethyl acetate concentration, on the performance of the PERVAP 2211 and 2201 membranes of Sulzer Chem-tech® using the real industrial by-product solution obtained from a local company are investigated. Pervaporation tests were conducted using a home made experimental setup equipped with 148 cm2 rectangular shaped membrane module. Permeates obtained from these experiments were analyzed using a gas chromatograph equipped with FID and the water concentration of the feed solutions were analyzed using Karl-Fisher titration. Besides, adsorption studies were conducted using zeolite 3A in a fixed bed column. As a result of this study, PERVAP 2201 membranes showed higher fluxes with a slightly lower permeate water concentration compared to PERVAP 2211 at the at ranges studied. The increase in the pervaporation performance was observed with an increase in the temperature, permeate side vacuum and feed flow rate over the membrane. Therefore, concentrated-mode experiments were conducted at 70°C, 2 torr permeate side pressure and 1.6 L/min of feed flow rate using the findings of the parametric studies and the retentate of this experiments were further dehydrated using liquid phase adsorption. Finally, the water concentration of the solution was decreased to 0.04% by weight.