Researchers at Arizona State University have invented a method of producing oxygen on a small scale at a low cost. Niobium, a transitional metal used in many industrial processes, can be used as an extremely effective oxygen-hydrogen separation membrane. The metal is able to separate hydrogen and oxygen molecules from one another in water and air. Since hydrogen and oxygen are available on both sides of the membrane, the net energy cost of the system is very close to zero, making operation costs low. With air and steam on different sides of the membrane, the Niobium is able to purify oxygen cheaply on any scale.
- Small scale Fischer-Tropsch processes
- Oxygen production and separation
- Coal gasification
- Gas separation
- Synthetic gas production
- Localized oxygen delivery for medical therapies
Benefits and Advantages
- Low Cost – Net energy cost of the reaction is very close to zero, so operation costs are low.
- Modularity – Can be used on a variety of scales, and individualized to meet specific industry needs.
- Small Scale Applications – Allows oxygen to be affordably purified on a small scale.
- Energy efficient – All water is reconstituted, making the net enthalpy (energy) cost for the process zero.
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