How to separate nitrogen and carbon monoxide

In the chemical industry, the separation of nitrogen and carbon monoxide is a crucial step. Due to their similar physical and chemical properties, separating these two gases can be challenging. However, with the advancements in technology and innovation, effective separation methods have been developed. In this article, we will explore various techniques for separating nitrogen and carbon monoxide, with a focus on a novel approach.

Importance of separating nitrogen and carbon monoxide

The separation of nitrogen and carbon monoxide is crucial for several reasons. Naphtha is a valuable feedstock in the chemical industry, while carbon monoxide is a harmful gas that can pose health risks. Therefore, effective separation methods are essential for ensuring the safety of workers and the efficiency of production processes.

Traditional separation methods

In the past, separation methods such as physical adsorption and chemical absorption were commonly used. Physical adsorption relies on the difference in adsorption rates of the gases on a solid adsorbent. However, it often suffers from low selectivity and poor recovery. Chemical absorption involves reacting the carbon monoxide with a suitable reagent to form a separable product. While effective, it often requires high energy inputs and the use of corrosive reagents.

Novel approach: Membrane separation

Membrane separation offers a promising alternative for separating nitrogen and carbon monoxide. This method utilizes special membranes that allow for preferential permeation of one gas over the other. By selecting an appropriate membrane material and optimizing operating conditions, high-purity nitrogen and carbon monoxide streams can be obtained.

In a recent case study, a leading chemical company successfully implemented a membrane separation process to separate nitrogen and carbon monoxide from their production process. The company had been struggling with traditional separation methods that were inefficient and costly. By partnering with a technology provider, they adopted a membrane separation system that offered significant improvements in terms of energy efficiency, process simplicity, and environmental friendliness.

The membrane separation system involved using a specifically designed membrane material that allowed for preferential permeation of nitrogen over carbon monoxide. The system was integrated into the company's existing process, with minimal modifications required. The separation process was highly efficient, achieving over 90% purity for both nitrogen and carbon monoxide streams. Additionally, the system required significantly lower energy inputs compared to traditional methods, reducing operating costs and environmental impacts.


The case study demonstrates the successful implementation of membrane separation technology for separating nitrogen and carbon monoxide in the chemical industry. This innovative approach offers significant advantages over traditional methods in terms of energy efficiency, process simplicity, and environmental friendliness. As the chemical industry continues to evolve and adopt sustainable practices, membrane separation technology is expected to play a pivotal role in ensuring efficient production processes while reducing environmental impacts.

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