COSMOS project to develop OSNF membranes on low cost ceramic supports is on its way


Currently about 25% of the energy in the process industry is used for (thermal) separation processes. The main method of separation used is distillation, which is a very energy-inefficient process. Within the community and the industry it is widely known that molecular membrane based separation is much more efficient than distillation. Nanofiltration is one of these methods of molecular membrane based separation. It is being applied more and more in the industry in a hybrid process combination with distillation or extraction and has sometimes even completely replaced these methods.

Because separation processes account for so much of the energy input that is used in the process industry developing and applying these more energy efficient membranes could potentially save a significant amount of energy. Much of the organic solvent nanofiltration (OSNF) membrane research and development in the Netherlands is focussed on the fundamental development of the membranes: TRL 2 to TRL 4. By upscaling these and other membranes the COSMOS project aims to achieve a 40% more efficient separation process whereby energy savings between 2 – 8 PJ/ year could be realised.

The COSMOS project aims to scale-up hybrid silica and polymer based organic solvent nanofiltration (OSNF) membranes to a surface area of 0.1 m2, this effectively means a move from TRL 4 to TRL 6. They would like to achieve this by using low cost, high quality ceramic supports in order to provide a low cost solution for highly demanding applications. CoorsTek will manufacture the low cost hollow fibre and multi-channel ceramic supports and the University of Twente and ECN will develop techniques for hybrid silica and polymeric nanofiltration membranes. Shell will select model- and process mixture of aromatics and aliphatics which will then be tested. Subsequently a roadmap and strategy towards membrane production scale up and implementation will be developed by CoorsTek, ECN and the ISPT. The ISPT will use their network to disseminate the results and connect the technology to the program and its ELS cluster roadmap.

When successful these membranes will be applicable in a broad range of separation processes. The technology of manufacturing these membranes will then be available on a scale of 0.1 m2. Thanks to this important step further scale up of membranes will become easier and more straightforward. A very exciting prospect. The project kicked off on the 1st of October 2017 and will run until the end of March 2020.

Example of large scale ceramic support production at CoorsTek.


This project is co-funded with subsidy from the Topsector Energy by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.