Recent advances in the synthesis of MFI zeolite nanosheets have led to highly selective membranes that are promising candidates for small-scale ammonia separation from ammonia/nitrogen/hydrogen mixtures in distributed green ammonia production plants. Using force-field-based molecular simulations, we evaluate the performance of bulk all-silica MFI zeolite and a 3 nm thick all-silica MFI nanosheet for ammonia/nitrogen/hydrogen separations at moderate temperature and pressure conditions (T = 373 K, p = 5 bar) as well as conditions relevant for a membrane-based reactor-separator process (T = 523 or 623 K, p = 80 bar). Isobaric-isothermal Gibbs ensemble Monte Carlo (GEMC) simulations were carried out to understand the selective adsorption behavior for these mixtures. Molecular dynamics simulations in the canonical ensemble were performed to examine the transport behavior of ammonia in a mixture with nitrogen or hydrogen at loadings obtained from the GEMC simulations. Our results show that both bulk MFI and the nanosheet with explicit surface silanols are highly selective toward ammonia adsorption, but the adsorption selectivity decreases by factors of 4 and 10 for ammonia/nitrogen and ammonia/hydrogen mixtures as the temperature is increased from 373 to 623 K. Conversely, the diffusion selectivities toward ammonia are more favorable at process-relevant temperatures and for the MFI nanosheet. At T = 523 K and p = 80 bar, our simulations predict overall separation factors of 3.8 ± 0.2 and 4.5 ± 0.3 for ammonia/nitrogen and ammonia/hydrogen mixtures, respectively, in the bulk MFI zeolite, and separation factors of 8.6 ± 0.4 and 12.5 ± 0.8, respectively, for the MFI nanosheet.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences, under Award DE-SC0021268, as part of the Separation Science Program. Computational resources, in part, were provided by the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute at the University of Minnesota. We are grateful to Dan Siderius for helpful discussions on adsorption isotherm files.
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