, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 481–498 | Cite as

Investigation of a novel combination of adsorbents for hydrogen purification using Cu-BTC and conventional adsorbents in pressure swing adsorption

  • Sadegh Jamali
  • Masoud Mofarahi
  • Alirio E. Rodrigues


This study is an attempt to simulate and analyze a lab-scale two-bed pressure swing adsorption in order to investigate the performance of three different adsorbents (Cu-BTC as a new generation adsorbent, activated carbon, and zeolite 5A) with different feed compositions, and find a novel combination of layered bed. Four different flows of steam methane reforming reactor were considered as inlet feeds for hydrogen purification. Comparison of the feeds with different compositions showed that in the presence of high amounts of impurities, an adsorption bed of Cu-BTC produces hydrogen at a higher purity than activated carbon, zeolite 5A, or an activated carbon-zeolite 5A layered bed. The simulation results from feed 4 (H2:CO2:CO:CH4 = 0.4574:0.3174:0.0622:0.1630) with high amounts of impurities, showed that the use of Cu-BTC leads to hydrogen purity of up to 97.22%, while activated carbon, zeolite 5A, and the layered bed cannot improve the purity beyond 86.46%. This work shows that Cu-BTC is capable of being used in the first layer of layered beds. This was confirmed by comparing the performance of the three combinations of Cu-BTC, activated carbon, and zeolite 5A. The first configuration of the three adsorbents, in which the Cu-BTC was used as the first layer, purified hydrogen up to + 99.99% and recovered it up to 21.25%.


Pressure swing adsorption Layered bed Cu-BTC Simulation Hydrogen purification 


List of symbols


Wall cross section area, m2


Total gas concentration, mol/kg


Equilibrium gas concentration \(i\) correspond to \(q_{i}^{*}\), mol/kg


Gas concentration of component \(i\), mol/kg


Gas bulk heat capacity, J/kg K


Adsorbent heat capacity, J/kg K


Wall heat capacity, J/kg K


Effective diffusion coefficient in macropore, m2/s


Binary molecular diffusivity, m2/s


Knudsen diffusivity of component \(i\), m2/s


Axial dispersion coefficient, m2/s


Molecular diffusivity of the gas mixture, m2/s


Molecular diffusivity of component \(i\), m2/s


Effective pore diffusivity of component \(i\), m2/s


Particle diameter, m


Internal heat transfer coefficient, W/m2 K


External heat transfer coefficient, W/m2 K


Film mass transfer coefficient, m/s


Axial heat dispersion coefficient, W/m2 K

\({K_{1 - 6,i}}\)

Equilibrium constants of dual site Langmuir equilibrium isotherm of component \(i\)


Column length, m


Molar mass of component \(i\)


Number of components


Gas phase pressure, Pa


Pressure of bed at start of steps DPE (5 × 105), BD (3 × 105) and PPE (1 × 105), Pa


Pressure of bed at end of steps DPE (3 × 105), BD (1 × 105) and PPE (3 × 105), Pa


Partial pressure of component \(i\), Pa


Amount of adsorbate \(i\) in the adsorbed phase, mol/kg


Adsorbed phase concentration in equilibrium with bulk phase of component \(i\), mol/kg


Internal bed radius, m


External bed radius, m


Film resistance of component \(i\)


Macropore resistance of component \(i\)


Micropore resistance of component \(i\)


Particle radius, m


Dimensionless Reynolds number


Mean pore radius, m


Dimensionless Schmidt number


Dimensionless Sherwood number


Time, s


Gas phase temperature, K


Ambient temperature, K


Column wall temperature, K


Superficial velocity of gas, m/s


Volume of column, m3


Mole fraction of component \(i\) in gas phase


Partition of the column length \(L\), m


Dimensionless length of column \(z/L\)

Greek letters

\(\Delta {H_i}\)

Heat of adsorption of component \(i\), J/mol


Exponential decay rate constant, 1/s


Bed porosity


Total porosity

\({\mu _g}\)

Gas viscosity, Pa.s

\({\mu _i}\)

Viscosity of component \(i\), Pa.s

\({\rho _B}\)

Bed density \(\left( {: = \;(1 - \varepsilon )\rho _{p} } \right)\), kg/m3

\({\rho _g}\)

Gas density, kg/m3

\({\rho _p}\)

Adsorbent particle density, kg/m3

\({\rho _w}\)

Wall density, kg/m3

\({\omega _i}\)

Adsorption rate constant of component \(i\), 1/s



We thank the Persian Gulf University for financial support, for providing various facilities, and for necessary approval.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Petroleum, Gas and Petrochemical EngineeringPersian Gulf UniversityBushehrIran
  2. 2.Department of Chemical and Biomolecular EngineeringYonsei UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.LSRE – Laboratory of Separation and Reaction Engineering – Associate Laboratory LSRE/LCM, Faculdade de EngenhariaUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal

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