The general objective of this paper is to investigate the separation, with microfluidics, of the components of a ternary mixture, when using vacuum or purge gas pervaporation. The ternary mixture considered is a mixture of methanol (MeOH), water (H2O) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). In a previous work (Ziemecka in Lab Chip 15:504–511, 2015), we presented the proof of concept of a microfluidic device, which was able to partially separate MeOH from the other components of such a mixture, by using vacuum pervaporation. Here, our goal is to optimize the operation of this device, by considering vacuum pervaporation, but also purge gas pervaporation. First, we provide a mathematical model of the device. This model is used to discuss the influence of the operating parameters on the device operation. To apply this model to the considered mixture, we determined the MeOH and H2O permeability coefficients of PDMS membranes prepared from different concentrations of the curing agent. The model is then successfully compared to experimental data. The model and the experiments show that high efficiencies can be reached for both vacuum and purge gas pervaporation, provided a fine-tuning of the operating parameters. For instance, a good efficiency of the vacuum pervaporation is reached at high temperature and low pressure. For purge gas pervaporation, it is reached for low temperature and high pressure.
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We acknowledge Ir. Hugo Serrano Latorre for Fig. 7, Dr. Pierre Miquel for helpful discussions, Prof. Michel Luhmer for access to the NMR and Hervé Baudine for technical support. We thank the Solvay Company for its input in this project and the Brussels and Walloon regions for the financial support through the WBGreen-MicroEco project. B.S. thanks the F.R.S.-FNRS for financial support as well as BELSPO through the IAP 7/38-MicroMAST project.
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