Carbon-Based Membranes


© Fraunhofer IKTS
Overview of carbon membranes.
Stainless steel modules for carbon membranes.
Molecular integration of carbon membranes.

The process industry is constantly on the lookout for cost-efficient processes to separate fluids and gaseous mixtures. With regard to the development of new power plant concepts with reduced emissions and higher efficiency, gas-separating membranes are more and more in the center of attention. The motive behind the use of carbon as a membrane material lies in the distance between the layers within the graphite, which is 0.34 nm – more or less the scale of small gas molecules. Besides its application as a membrane, carbon is also deemed a suitable material for catalysis and energy storage, based on its defined structure, its large specific surface and the special surface activity. The advantages of carbon-based membranes, compared to cyclical processes, such as adsorption and desorption, are their continuous operation and their simple, flexible plant design offering low investment cost and low energy consumption.

Carbon-based membranes are manufactured by deposition of polymer precursors on porous, ceramic carriers, followed by pyrolysis. In this process, the separation properties of the thin membrane layers can be adapted along a wide range by varying the membrane material. Thus, they offer a different potential for the separation of gases of varying molecular sizes (molecular sieving, e.g. H2/CO2), but also for the separation of gases of similar molecular sizes through adsorption (e.g. CO2 separation from biogas). The membranes are suited for use at high temperatures and offer potential for energy storage applications.


Services offered


  • Prototype manufacturing of carbon-based membranes on ceramic carriers of different materials and different geometries (discs, single-channel, multi-channel pipes, capillaries)
  • Development and synthesis of specific precursors
  • Development of molecular sieve or adsorption-selective carbon-based membranes for customized separation tasks
  • Conceptualization and configuration of pilot plants

Separating mechanisms in carbon membranes

Current research

Efficient CO2 recovery from industrial emissions through membrane separation

Current research

Palladium membranes for H2 separation from hot and humid gases

Current research

Increased product yield through the use of membrane reactors


Carbon membranes


Polymer-Derived Ceramic (PDC) Membranes for High-Temperature Gas Separation


CNT coatings