Synthesis gas produced in coal gasification processes contains hydrogen, along with carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, water, nitrogen, and other gases, depending on the particular gasification process. Development of membrane technology to separate the hydrogen from the raw gas at the high operating temperatures and pressures near exit gas conditions would improve the efficiency of the process. Tubular porous alumina membranes with mean pore radii ranging from about 9-22 Å have been fabricated and characterized. Based on the results of hydrostatic tests, the burst strength of the membranes ranged from 800-1600 psig, with a mean value of about 1300 psig. These membranes were evaluated for separating hydrogen and other gases. Tests of membrane permeabilities were made with helium, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. Measurements were made at room temperature in the pressure range of 15-589 psi. In general, the relative gas permeabilities correlated qualitatively with a Knudsen flow mechanism; however, other gas transport mechanisms such as surface adsorption also may be involved. Efforts are under way to fabricate membranes having still smaller pores. At smaller pore sizes, higher separation factors are expected from molecular sieving effects.

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