Membrane-Based CO2 Capture

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Membrane-based CO2 capture utilizes specialized membranes to selectively separate carbon dioxide from gas mixtures, such as flue gas from power plants or industrial emissions. These membranes act as a filter, allowing CO2 to pass through while blocking other gases, effectively concentrating CO2 for storage or utilization.

Impact on climate action

Membrane-Based CO2 Capture revolutionizes emissions reduction by selectively trapping CO2 from industrial processes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This innovation enhances climate action by offering a cost-effective, scalable solution for capturing and storing CO2, mitigating its impact on global warming and fostering a more sustainable future.


Membrane-based CO2 capture relies on several key technologies and principles:

  • Membrane Materials: A variety of membrane materials are used, including polymers, ceramics, and composite materials. Each material offers different properties in terms of CO2 permeability, selectivity, durability, and cost.
  • Gas Separation Mechanisms: Membranes can separate gases based on various mechanisms, such as:
    • Solution-Diffusion: CO2 dissolves into the membrane material and then diffuses through it, driven by a concentration gradient.
    • Molecular Sieving: Membranes with precisely sized pores allow CO2 molecules to pass through while blocking larger molecules.
    • Facilitated Transport: Specialized carrier molecules within the membrane selectively bind and transport CO2.
  • Membrane Configurations: Membranes can be configured in various forms, including hollow fibers, spiral-wound modules, and flat sheets, to optimize surface area and gas flow.
  • Process Integration: Membrane-based capture can be integrated into various points in industrial processes, such as pre-combustion, post-combustion, and oxy-fuel combustion, to maximize CO2 capture efficiency.

TRL : 6-8 (Membrane-based CO2 capture technology has been commercially deployed in certain applications, but ongoing research and development are pushing the technology further).

Prominent Innovation themes

  • High-Performance Membranes: Researchers are developing new membrane materials with enhanced CO2 permeability, selectivity, and durability. This includes incorporating advanced materials like graphene and metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) into membrane structures.
  • Mixed Matrix Membranes (MMMs): Combining different materials, such as polymers with inorganic fillers, creates MMMs with improved gas separation properties.
  • Thin-Film Composite Membranes: These membranes consist of a thin selective layer on a porous support, offering high permeability and selectivity.
  • Process Intensification: Integrating membrane-based capture with other separation technologies, such as absorption or adsorption, can enhance overall CO2 capture efficiency.
  • Hybrid Membrane Systems: Combining different membrane types in a single system can optimize performance for specific gas mixtures and operating conditions.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Advanced Membrane Materials Development
  • Enhanced CO2 Permeability Technologies
  • Selective Gas Separation Mechanisms
  • Innovative Membrane Configurations
  • Integration in Industrial Processes
  • Commercial Deployment of Membrane Tech
  • Next-Gen Membrane Material Research
  • Graphene-Based Membrane Innovation
  • Metal-Organic Framework Membranes
  • Mixed Matrix Membrane Advancements
  • Thin-Film Composite Membranes
  • Membrane Process Intensification
  • Hybrid Membrane System Optimization
  • Membrane Scaling for Industrial Use
  • Cost-Effective Membrane Solutions
  • Scalable Membrane Manufacturing
  • Membrane Retrofitting Techniques
  • Membrane Efficiency Enhancement

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Membrane Technology and Research (MTR):
    • Technology Focus: MTR specializes in membrane-based separation technologies, including CO2 capture. Their focus is on developing membranes that selectively capture CO2 from various gas streams, such as those found in power plants or industrial processes.
    • Uniqueness: MTR stands out for its expertise in membrane technology, offering solutions that are often more energy-efficient and cost-effective compared to traditional methods of CO2 capture, such as amine scrubbing.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments may include power generation, oil and gas refining, chemical manufacturing, and other industries with significant CO2 emissions that need to comply with environmental regulations or reduce their carbon footprint.
  • PoroGen:
    • Technology Focus: PoroGen is likely focused on developing advanced porous materials and membranes for CO2 capture applications. Their innovations may include novel materials with enhanced selectivity and durability for capturing CO2.
    • Uniqueness: PoroGen’s uniqueness could lie in its development of cutting-edge porous materials specifically designed for CO2 capture, offering improved performance and cost-effectiveness compared to existing solutions.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions may appeal to industries seeking more efficient and sustainable methods of CO2 capture, such as power plants, refineries, cement production, and other heavy industrial processes.
  • Evonik:
    • Technology Focus: Evonik is a diversified chemicals company that likely has a focus on membrane technology for various applications, including CO2 capture. Their innovations may involve the development of specialized membranes and materials for capturing CO2 from flue gases.
    • Uniqueness: Evonik’s uniqueness could stem from its extensive expertise in materials science and chemical engineering, allowing them to develop highly tailored solutions for CO2 capture that meet the specific needs of different industries.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments may include industries with large-scale CO2 emissions, such as power generation, steel production, cement manufacturing, and petrochemical refining.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Georgia Institute of Technology:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at Georgia Tech are focusing on developing advanced membrane materials for CO2 capture from industrial flue gases. These membranes are engineered at the molecular level to selectively permeate CO2 while blocking other gases, enabling efficient separation.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Georgia Tech’s approach involves the design of hybrid membranes that combine different materials and structures to enhance CO2 capture performance. They are also investigating novel membrane fabrication techniques, such as electrospinning and layer-by-layer assembly, to improve scalability and cost-effectiveness.
    • End-use Applications: The membrane-based CO2 capture technology developed at Georgia Tech has applications in various industries, including power generation, cement production, and natural gas processing. By capturing CO2 emissions at the source, companies can reduce their environmental footprint and comply with emissions regulations.
  • Imperial College London:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at Imperial College London are focusing on optimizing the performance of membrane-based CO2 capture systems through process intensification and system integration. They are developing innovative reactor designs and operating strategies to enhance CO2 capture efficiency and reduce energy consumption.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Imperial College’s approach involves a holistic optimization of the CO2 capture process, considering factors such as membrane material properties, reactor design, and system operation parameters. They are also investigating the integration of membrane-based capture with other CO2 mitigation technologies, such as carbon utilization and storage.
    • End-use Applications: The research at Imperial College has implications for a wide range of industries, including power plants, refineries, and chemical manufacturing facilities. By implementing membrane-based CO2 capture systems, companies can reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to global efforts to mitigate climate change.
  • KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology):
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at KAUST are pioneering the development of next-generation membrane materials for CO2 capture with enhanced selectivity, permeability, and stability. They are leveraging advanced computational modeling and high-throughput screening techniques to accelerate the discovery and optimization of novel membrane materials.
    • Uniqueness of Research: KAUST’s approach involves a multidisciplinary collaboration between materials scientists, chemists, and engineers to address key challenges in membrane-based CO2 capture, such as membrane fouling and degradation. They are also exploring innovative membrane configurations, such as mixed-matrix membranes and supported liquid membranes, to improve performance and durability.
    • End-use Applications: The membrane-based CO2 capture technology developed at KAUST has applications in various sectors, including petrochemicals, natural gas processing, and carbon capture and utilization (CCU). By capturing CO2 emissions at the source, companies can reduce their environmental impact and create value-added products from captured CO2.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Membrane-based CO2 capture is being commercially implemented in several applications:

  • Natural Gas Processing: Membranes are widely used to separate CO2 from natural gas streams, improving gas quality and reducing emissions.
  • Biogas Upgrading: Membranes are used to remove CO2 from biogas, producing high-purity methane for use as a renewable fuel.
  • Post-Combustion CO2 Capture: Several pilot-scale and demonstration projects are utilizing membrane technology for capturing CO2 from flue gas at power plants and industrial facilities.