Low-energy adsorptive separation by zeolites

Natl Sci Rev. 2022 Apr 5;9(9):nwac064. doi: 10.1093/nsr/nwac064. eCollection 2022 Sep.


Separation of mixture is always necessarily required in modern industry, especially in fine chemical, petrochemical, coal chemical and pharmaceutical industries. The challenge of the separation process is usually associated with small molecules with very similar physical and chemical properties. Among the separation techniques, the commonly used high-pressure cryogenic distillation process with combination of high pressure and very low temperature is heavily energy-consuming, which accounts for the major production costs as well as 10-15% of the world's energy consumption. To this end, the adsorptive separation process based on zeolite sorbents is a promising lower-energy alternative and the performance is directly determined by the zeolite sorbents. In this review, we surveyed the separation mechanisms based on the steric, equilibrium, kinetic and 'trapdoor' effect, and summarized the recent advances in adsorptive separation via zeolites including CO2, light olefins, C8 aromatics and hydrogen isotopes. Furthermore, we provided the perspectives on the rational design of zeolite sorbents for the absolute separation of mixtures.

Keywords: CO2 separation; adsorptive separation; hydrogen isotope separation; olefin/paraffin separation; zeolites.

Publication types

  • Review