Pervaporation is claimed to be a promising separation technique for the purification of ethanol from fermentation broths during bio-ethanol production. In this study, influence of fermentation by-products on the purification of ethanol from water during hydrophobic pervaporation was investigated.
Sugars and salts were found to increase the membrane performance. Reason for this was a change in vapor/liquid equilibrium. 2,3-Butanediol decreased the ethanol flux and selectivity factor, while glycerol exhibited no effect. This was explained by a strong sorption of butanediol into PDMS and no sorption of glycerol. Due to the presence of carboxylic acids, hydrophobicity degree of the Pervap 4060 membrane decreased, which resulted in an irreversible increase in water flux and decrease in separation performance. These observations suggested the presence of silicalite-based fillers in the membrane. When the pH was raised to a value above the dissociation constant, no changes in hydrophobicity degree and membrane performance were found.