Journal article Open Access

Steam separation enhanced reactions: Review and outlook

van Kampen, Jasper; Boon, Jurriaan; van Berkel, Frans; Vente, Jaap; van Sint Annaland, Martin

Enhancement by steam separation is a promising process intensification for many types of reactions in which
water is formed as a byproduct. For this, two main technologies are reactive vapor permeation (membrane
technology) and reactive adsorption. Both can achieve significant conversion enhancement of equilibrium
limited reactions by in situ removal of the by-product steam, while additionally it may help protecting catalysts
from steam-induced deactivation.
In general, reactive permeation or reactive adsorption would be preferable for distinctly different process
conditions and requirements. However, although some advantages of reactive steam separation are readily
apparent from a theoretical, thermodynamic point of view, the developments in several research lines make clear
that the feasibility of in situ steam removal should be addressed case specifically and not only from a theoretical
point of view. This includes the hydrothermal stability of the membranes and their permselectivity for reactive
steam permeation, whereas high-temperature working capacities and heat management are crucial aspects for
reactive steam adsorption. Together, these developments can accelerate further discovery, innovation and the
rollout of steam separation enhanced reaction processes.

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