Performance and costs of hollow fibre membrane systems for biogas upgrading

Edeki, L., Esteves, S.R.R. and Guwy, A., University of Glamorgan, UK



A techno-economic assessment of membrane separation systems for biogas upgrading to biomethane quality for injecting in to the natural gas network has been investigated using computer simulations. Various membrane configurations were modelled using commercial cellulose acetate and 6FDA-HAB polyimide membranes. The optimal configuration for both type of membranes based on upgrading costs was found to be two membrane stages with a second stage permeate recycle. However, a two stage membrane system with second stage retentate recycle resulted in improved performance.

Key words:

Biogas upgrading, anaerobic digestion, hollow fibre membrane, modelling, biomethane


The development of renewable sources of energy has gained increased attention during the past decades. This trend is expected to continue as different regulations are proposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Upgraded biogas is deemed to be part of the desired substitution of fossil energy. This potential can only be achieved by developing new biogas upgrading technologies that are economical viable than currently used techniques. Different competing technologies are currently being used for biogas upgrading. Among these methods, membrane upgrading processes offers a number of important advantages over conventional separation technologies including ease of scale–up, high flexibility, modular design, environmental friendliness and low operating cost [1-3]. The economic reviews of the application of gas separation membranes by Spillman and co-workers have demonstrated that membrane technology is a competitive alternative for medium and low scale production [4-6]. Thus, the use of membranes for biogas upgrading from small to large scale biogas production plants is worth investigating.

Numerical modelling of gas separation membrane systems provides the necessary platform for detailed economic and performance optimization before detailed investment is committed to such processes.

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