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Design of adsorption columns

In the MoGaTEx research project, we are investigating the model-based design of adsorption columns for gas separation based on small-scale experiments.

Franz Lanzerath

Franz Lanzerath


December 25, 2021

Adsorption plant

Wikimedia Commons / Bdcook (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Simulation of adsorption columns

The rigorous design of adsorption columns for gas purification is a very complex task. In addition to required adsorption isotherms, information about the adsorption kinetics of gas mixtures in particular is difficult to obtain. Furthermore, no specialized software tools are available for the use of these data for the design of adsorption columns. Therefore, general simulation tools have been used so far, which are complex to use and for which special model libraries have to be developed. As a result, rigorous simulation-based design and optimization are very time-consuming and costly, and are only performed for very large plants by companies with existing simulation expertise. For the majority of all adsorption columns, on the other hand, short-cut methods with high safety margins are used for design, which lead to oversizing of the plants and increased energy consumption during operation.

This is where the MoGaTEx project comes in: The aim is to develop an integrated tool chain for the rigorous design and optimization of adsorption columns, even without comprehensive simulation know-how of the plant manufacturer. Nevertheless, both adsorption kinetics and dynamic system simulation based on our model library TIL Adsorption are included in the design. Small and medium-sized companies in particular would benefit from lowering the financial and technical hurdles for model-based design.

Schematic of a Pressure Swing adsorption plant

Energy savings through model-based design

Due to the reduced safety margin, it is estimated that 15% of the energy demand can be saved during operation over the entire lifetime of the adsorption plant. Assuming 24 h operation, 300 days per year, the potential worldwide annual energy savings for existing plants from German manufacturers alone can be roughly estimated at 2.7 TWh. In addition, similar savings potentials arise for new plants, since their energy requirements can be optimized with the same tool chain. In the case of new plants, the capital expenditure can also be reduced by avoiding oversizing.

With the practical example "Direct Air Capture" to demonstrate the tool chain, a technology is highlighted that can have an immense impact on the CO2 balance. With the help of "Direct Air Capture" technologies, CO2 can be removed from the environment and thus counteract global warming.

Research partners

The MoGaTEx research project is a joint project of three research partners.

Our project partner 3P Instruments is responsible for the small-scale adsorption experiments and the determination of the kinetics coefficients. The Chair of Technical Thermodynamics at RWTH Aachen University is the scientific partner responsible for the development of the necessary models and methods. We at TLK Energy are responsible for the development of software tools for the design and optimization of adsorption plants.

In addition, the project is accompanied by three associated partners from industry to ensure application-oriented development:  

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) through the funding measure "KMU-innovativ: Ressourceneffizienz und Klimaschutz".

Franz Lanzerath


Franz Lanzerath

Managing Director

TLK Energy

Dr.-Ing. Franz Lanzerath received his doctorate at the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics at RWTH Aachen University. Since 2007 he has been intensively engaged in the model-based development of thermal systems. One of his main interests is the interface between model and experiment, i.e. model calibration and validation. At TLK Energy he is responsible for the transfer of the latest scientific methods and findings into industrial practice.

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