A Bio4Energy research leader has been appointed Innovator of the Year by his employer Luleå University of Technology, Sweden, for developing energy-efficient technology for biogas upgrading for use as vehicle fuel.
Professor Jonas Hedlund and his team on Bio4Energy Catalysis and Separation have a history of developing and perfecting membranes from zeolites. The latter are microporous, crystalline aluminosilicate materials commonly used as commercial adsorbents or catalysts.
Carbon dioxide separation from biogas and saltwater purification are two main avenues for use of the membranes that the researchers are developing. To the best of their knowledge, they were the first team to develop large membranes from Chabazite, a so-called tectosilicate mineral of the zeolite group.
What set the effort apart, is the quality of the membranes developed.
Hedlund’s business venture ZeoMem Sweden is the only one to offer membranes for sale that are selective enough and which provide sufficient throughput for them to be used in industry, according to a press release from LTU.
“Zeolite membrane processes are a new, inexpensive and compact technology, which is approximately 90 per cent more energy efficient the technology in use”, Hedlund said;
“We estimate that these processes could be used in five per cent of separation processes worldwide. This means that the potential for energy savings from [using] new zeolite membrane processes is on a par with the annual consumption of [fossil] oil in Sweden”.
The goal is for the new-style zeolite membranes to be produced at an automated factory at Luleå, for ZeoMem Sweden to be able to provide membranes for purification of natural gas or ethene in large-scale industrial operations.
In its award motivation, LTU called the effort “an important contribution to the green transition and a more sustainable world.
“After more than 20 years of research on zeolite membranes, Jonas Hedlund has developed a unique and scalable solution for the purification of biogas”.
Bio4Energy has world-leading scientists on it research platform for Chemical Catalysis and Separation Technologies. Jonas Hedlund, professor at Luleå University of Technology, has been ranked among the top one per cent of leading scientists in chemical technology in a 2021 review by Stanford University, U.S.A.