A Novel inorganic hollow fiber membrane reactor for catalytic dehydrogenation of propane

Zhentao Wu, Irfan M.D. Hatim, Benjamin F.K. Kingsbury, Ejiro Gbenedio, K. Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A novel inorganic hollow fiber membrane reactor (iHFMR) has been developed and applied to the catalytic dehydrogenation of propane to propene. Alumina hollow fiber substrates, prepared by a phase inversion sintering method, possess a unique asymmetric structure that can be characterized by a very porous inner surface from which finger-like voids extend across ∼80% of the fiber cross-section with the remaining 20% consisting ofa denser sponge-like outer layer. In contrast to other existing Pd Ag composite membranes, where an intermediate γ-Al2O3 layer is often used to bridge the Pd/ Ag layer and the substrate, the Pd Ag composite membrane prepared in this study was achieved by coating the Pd/Ag layer directly onto the outer surface ofthe asymmetric substrate. After depositing submicron-sized Pt (0.5 wt %)/y-alumina catalysts in the finger-like voids of the substrates, a highly compact multifunctional iHFMR was developed. Propane conversion as high as 42% was achieved at the initial stage of the reaction at 723 K. In addition, the space-time yields of the iHFMR were 60 times higher than that of a fixed bed reactor, demonstrating advantages of using iHFMR for dehydrogenation reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2389-2398
Number of pages10
JournalAIChE Journal
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2009


  • Alumina hollow fiber
  • Asymmetric structure
  • Dehydrogenation of propane
  • Membrane reactor
  • Pd/Ag membrane


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