Engineering High-Efficiency Adsorption Contactors via 3D Printing of Microporous Polymers

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Zhang, Fengyi
Lively, Ryan P.
Breedveld, Victor
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Adsorption is a promising energy-efficient separation process, which selectively removes one or several components from a mixture by transporting a fluid through a mass transfer contactor. The most traditional mass transfer contactor design is a packed bed of adsorbent pellets, which suffers from high pressure drop, low mass transfer rate, difficulty in heat integration, etc. State-of-the-art structured mass transfer contactors have been developed to address these problems. For instance, hollow fiber sorbents can achieve rapid temperature manipulation by flowing heat-exchange media through the bore channels, and monoliths provide uniform fluid channels to minimize pressure drop. However, limited by manufacturing techniques, existing structured mass transfer contactors struggle to address all of the aforementioned problems with one structural design. 3D printing techniques can fabricate complex architectures without molding-based approaches, which is suitable for rapid prototyping of novel mass transfer contactor designs. The overarching goal of this thesis is to engineer high-efficiency adsorption contactors via 3D printing of microporous polymers. To achieve this goal, three objectives were established: (1) develop 3D printing techniques that can process adsorptive materials and generate hierarchical porosity, (2) prototype scalable mass transfer contactors with optimized energy efficiency, (3) perform proof-of-concept adsorption experiments to demonstrate the advantages of 3D printing in mass transfer contactor fabrication.
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