Environmental Evaluation of the Improvements for Industrial Scaling of Zeolite Membrane Manufacturing by Life Cycle Assessment

Alberto Navajas, Nitish Mittal, Neel Rangnekar, Han Zhang, Alfonso Cornejo, Luis M. Gandía, Michael Tsapatsis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Industrial scaling of zeolite membrane manufacturing is the general aspiration of the progresses in zeolite membranes synthesis, but the evaluation of their environmental aspects has been disregarded. The objective of this study is to quantify the environmental impacts of zeolite membrane synthesis with respect to the recent advances in the synthesis of zeolite membranes: (i) seed layers that allow membranes of submicron thickness; (ii) gel-less secondary treatments that avoid the use of large amounts of expensive structure directing agents; and (iii) use of low-cost polymer supports instead of conventional ceramic supports. Impacts are evaluated via life cycle assessment, which is performed using GaBi 8.7 Pro software. The impacts due to conventional and nanosheet seed layers are comparable but contribute only a small portion to the total impacts. Although the gel-less secondary growth has up to 10-fold lesser impacts compared to that for solvent-based secondary growth, a Piranha-treated nanosheets method, which eliminates secondary growth, can reduce impacts by an order of magnitude. It has also been found, that the majority of impacts are provided by the support layer. Advancements in hollow fiber synthesis, especially using thinner fibers and less-aggressive solvents, can considerably reduce the impacts associated with overall membrane synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15773-15780
Number of pages8
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 5 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
M.T. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation, Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems under award number CBET 1705687.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2018 American Chemical Society.


  • Environmental impact
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Membrane synthesis methods
  • MFI zeolite


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