Mass transfer in hollow fiber membrane contactor extraction using compressed solvents

Geoffrey D. Bothun, Barbara L. Knutson, Herbert J. Strobel, Sue E. Nokes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Ethanol and acetone were extracted from aqueous feed streams (10wt.% solute) at ambient temperature using compressed propane (34.5bar) and CO 2 (69bar) in a polypropylene hollow fiber membrane contactor (HFC). Overall mass transfer coefficients were determined and related to tubeside, membrane, and shellside mass transfer by varying the aqueous velocity (0.6-11.8cm/s) and molar solvent to feed ratio (1 to 3) in countercurrent flow. The overall mass transfer coefficient for ethanol and acetone extraction with compressed propane ranged from 3.8×10-4 to 1.1×10 -2 and 1.1×10-4 to 1.7×10-3cm/s, respectively. For compressed CO2, the overall mass transfer coefficient ranged from 5.1×10-4 to 1.4×10 -3cm/s for ethanol extraction and 4.1×10-4 to 9.5×10-4cm/s for acetone extraction. Experimentally determined shellside mass transfer coefficients were compared to values predicted by existing correlations for HFC extraction with non-pressurized solvents. Enhanced HFC mass transfer is observed with compressed solvents relative to both conventional liquid HFC extraction and to column extraction with compressed CO2. Our results demonstrate the applicability of compressed hydrocarbons to HFC-based processes, and the ability to analyze compressed solvent-based extraction using conventional HFC techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-196
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 15 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge the financial support of the National Science Foundation (Grant BES-9817069), and Marc Sims at Porocrit™ for providing the single fiber units and assistance with the initial design of the system. We also acknowledge the advice of Alan Gabelman, Dr. Bill Krantz, and Dr. Sun-Tak Hwang at the Center for Membrane Applied Science and Technology located at the University of Cincinnati, and Dr. Esteban Brignole (PLAPIQUI, Bahı́a Blanca, Argentina) for his invaluable contributions.


  • Biotechnology
  • Compressed fluids
  • Fiber membranes
  • Organic separations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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