B.Sc. Project Description

Supervisor : Louis van der Ham

Topic: Concentrating and separating ABE mixture by pervaporation

ABE mixtures consist of Acetone, n-Butanol and Ethanol (total max 2 wt%) diluted in water and are obtained via fermentation of sugars. Higher concentrations are not possible due to inhibition of the micro-organisms. Especially the n-Butanol is of interest since this process is a sustainable method to produce n-butanol. The major challenge is concentrating the Butanol to 99 wt%. Standard Distillation consumes too much energy due to the low feed concentration. Therefore a low-cost pre-concentration step is needed to make the process feasible.

One of the options for pre-concentration is pervaporation. Pervaporation is a membrane based technology in which the liquid mixture (feed) directly contacts with one side of a membrane. The target compounds diffuse through the membrane, then desorb at the permeate side as vapor under low pressure or vacuum, and finally condense at a low temperature.

Pervaporation scheme

The main tasks of this B.Sc. project are as follows.


Literature survey on available pervaporation membranes for ABE mixture upgrading.


Experimental work on a selected pervaporation membrane in available pervaporation setup


Consequence of results obtained from the experiments for the separation process model (available in Aspen Plus).

Finally, a report will be written on the findings of the research.

Contact: a.g.j.vanderham@utwente.nl