Oct. 29, 2018
Toray Industries, Inc.
Toray Creates World’s Highest-level Polymeric Separation Membrane for Hydrogen Purification

 Toray Industries, Inc., (headquarters: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; President: Akihiro Nikkaku;hereinafter referred to as "Toray") today announced that it succeeded in creating a highly hydrogen permeable polymeric separation membrane that can selectively separate hydrogen from a gas mixture containing hydrogen. It will improve the technology and socially implement it towards the realization of a hydrogen energy based society.  Currently, the expanding use of hydrogen is drawing attention as a new type of energy. Hydrogen production is expected to rapidly increase to 300 million tons in 2030 and membrane separation is gathering attention as an energy-saving and highly efficient hydrogen purification method.  Separation of gas using membrane generally needs to be done in a high temperature, high pressure environment, and the porous substrate that makes up the separation membrane needs to be made heat and pressure resistant in order to realize superior separation property in severe conditions. Precise control over the pore size of the separation function layer is important to efficiently and selectively separate hydrogen from the supplied gas, and existing polymeric separation membranes for hydrogen purification faced the issue of realizing both heat and pressure resistance needed in the separation process while maintaining permeability and selectiveness of hydrogen.  Toray succeeded in the creation of a new separation membrane that possesses heat and pressure resistance as well as highly selective hydrogen separation property, thus solving the issue. The key points of this technology are as described below. 1. Heat and pressure resistant porous substrate design  Toray worked on a porous substrate design that combines heat resistant polymeric materials and separation membrane manufacturing technology, both developed over many years, and realized uniform porous substrate by closely controlling the phase separation rate of polymer with high glass transition temperature of 200 ℃ or higher using non-solvent induced phase separation*. The technology sufficiently ensures gas permeability while significantly improving heat and pressure resistance. 2. Highly hydrogen selective and permeable separation membrane design based on the technology to precisely control the pore size of the separation function layer  With the interfacial polycondensation technology it developed in reverse osmosis membrane as its base, Toray skillfully made use of porous structure control appropriate for gas separation and molecular framework introduction technology to design a new separation membrane with an average pore diameter suitable for selectively permeating hydrogen molecule (0.29nm). The company confirmed that the new separation membrane has hydrogen permeability and selective separation property that significantly exceed existing polymeric membrane performance levels (Fig. 1).  In its Group Sustainability Vision announced in July, Toray declared its mission is to deliver innovative technologies and advanced materials that provide real solutions to the challenges the world faces with balancing development and sustainability.  Under its corporate philosophy of “contributing to society through the creation of new value,” the company will pursue revolutionary research on gas separation membranes, aiming to achieve social implementation of the technology around the world towards the realization of a hydrogen energy based society.


Fig 1 Separator film performance with the technology (hydrogen/nitrogen separation)

Fig 1 Separator film performance with the technology (hydrogen/nitrogen separation)

X-axis  Hydrogen permeabilityY-axis Hydrogen/nitrogen selectivity Inside graph Polymer membrane performance potential Toray research prototype [Technical terms] Non-solvent induced phase separation: To bring the polymer solution in contact with non-solvent to trigger phase separation.