A significant part of European membrane research is focused on the separation technologies required for clean and sustainable energy systems. To speed up current developments, five leading energy research centers have decided to consolidate and strengthen their collaboration in the field of membrane technology by signing a Memorandum of Understanding.
The "European Inorganic Membrane Research Alliance" (EIMRA) aims to facilitate the transition from basic research to applications. In this way, EIMRA will contribute to the worldwide effort to enhance industrial efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Collaboration with industrial partners is of eminent importance for this Alliance. EIMRA seeks to support the industrial implementation of membrane technology by contributing its expertise through the development and realization of membrane pilots and systems. Planned activities are the development of novel membrane materials, manufacturing technologies and processes for membrane modules, and the integration of components into systems.
Another goal is that EIMRA should become the single entry point of contact for industry at a European level. EIMRA comprises leading membrane technology groups from the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), the Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy in Denmark (DTU), the Flemish Institute for Technological Research in Belgium (VITO), SINTEF in Norway, and Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany.
Inorganic (ceramic) membranes can be used in many separation processes in the chemical industry, for example for the production of hydrogen and liquid fuels from renewable sources. Other applications are found in carbon capture technology for fossil-fuel-based power plants. The relatively low energy consumption of membrane technology renders it a key component in a clean, green and sustainable energy system.
About Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN):
To achieve a sustainable energy system, ECN conducts R&D in the fields of renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean use of fossil fuels. ECN aims to bridge the gap from small-scale fundamental research to full-size industrial applications. An essential step in this process is to address the requirements of the end user and to translate the outstanding issues into research, development & demonstration challenges. The Membrane Technology group develops energy-efficient separation technologies using inorganic membranes. Currently, efforts are concentrated on HybSi® membrane technology (see www.hybsi.com) and on palladium-based hydrogen separation modules (see www.hysep.com)
Risø DTU is the National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). Research focuses on the development of energy technologies and systems with minimal effect on climate, and the laboratory also contributes to innovation, education and policy. Risø has large experimental facilities and interdisciplinary research environments, and includes the national centre for nuclear technologies. The Fuel Cells and Solid State Chemistry Division at Risø DTU carries out research and development on functional ceramics for energy technologies. In addition to ceramic gas separation membranes, research areas include solid oxide fuel cells and electrolysis cells.
SINTEF is a multidisciplinary contract research organization with extensive activities in membrane-related technologies. This includes metallic Pd membranes for hydrogen separation, dense ceramic membranes for oxygen and hydrogen separation, porous and ceramic/carbonate dual-phase membranes for CO2 separation. SINTEF also develops catalytic membrane contactors for water purification and hybrid (inorganic/polymeric) membranes for pervaporation and gas separation. Another important field is membrane emulsification in the preparation and use of nanocapsules and emulsions. SINTEF has well-equipped laboratories and personnel experienced in working with industry on materials development, characterization and testing of all the above-mentioned membranes in small-scale modules.
About Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO):
The Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) is a leading independent European research and consulting centre developing sustainable technologies in the area of energy, environment, materials and remote sensing. The institute provides high-quality solutions, offering a competitive advantage to large and small companies. Being active in sustainable chemistry, environment and health, energy efficiency and smart grids, mapping and monitoring of the effects of climate change, analytical services, materials technology and international policy issues, VITO provides objective research and advice enabling industry and government to establish future policies. Since its foundation, VITO has been involved with membrane technology for diverse applications. VITO: technology for ecology and economy. See www.vito.be
About Forschungszentrum Jülich:
Jülich's Institute of Energy Research works on issues from the fields of photovoltaics, fuel cells, improved power-plant engineering and nuclear fusion, paying special attention to ecological and economic constraints. Membrane researchers are developing inorganic gas separation membranes. They investigate the properties of these membranes down to the atomic level and also work on integrating them into power plant processes. (See http://www.fz-juelich.de/ief)