New research project: Model-based design of adsorption columns for gas separation based on small-scale experiments

With the participation of 3P Instruments, the project “MoGaTEx” was recently launched. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and has a duration from 01/07/2020 to 30/06/2023. In the following, we would like to introduce what this research project is about:

The rigorous design of adsorption columns for gas separation is a very complex task. In addition to the required adsorption equilibrium substance data, information on the adsorption kinetics of gas mixtures in particular is difficult to obtain. Furthermore, no specialized software tools are available for the use of these data for column design.

An industrial adsorption column

Therefore, general simulation tools are used, which are complex in handling and for which special model libraries have to be developed. This leads to the fact that the rigorous, simulation-based design and optimization is very time and cost intensive and is only performed for very large plants by companies with existing simulation know-how. For the majority of all adsorption columns, however, short cut methods with high safety margins are used for the design, which leads to an oversizing of the plants and to an increased energy consumption during operation.

This is where the MoGaTEx project starts: The aim is to develop a continuous tool chain for the rigorous design and optimization of adsorption columns even without comprehensive simulation know-how of the plant manufacturer. Nevertheless, both adsorption kinetics and dynamic plant simulation are included in the design. Especially small and medium-sized companies would benefit from lowering the financial and technical hurdles for model-based design.


It is estimated that the reduced safety surcharges can save an estimated 15 % of energy consumption during operation over the entire life of the column. Assuming 24-hour operation, 300 days per year, the potential worldwide annual energy savings for existing plants from German manufacturers alone can be roughly estimated at 2.7 TWh. In addition, there are similar savings potentials for new plants, since their energy requirements can be optimized with the same tool chain. In the case of new plants, the investment expenditure can also be reduced by avoiding overdimensioning.

The practical application of “Direct Air Capture” to demonstrate the tool chain also highlights a technology that can have an immense impact on the CO2 balance. “Direct Air Capture” technologies can be used to remove CO2 from the environment and thus counteract global warming.

Sketch for project "Model-based design of adsorption columns for gas separation based on small-scale experiments"

Scheme of an industrial adsorption process

The roles and tasks of the project partners are the following:

  • TLK Energy GmbH: Project management; application scenarios and workflow definition, definition of requirements; responsible for the development of a software tool for design and optimization of adsorption columns
  • Chair of Technical Thermodynamics, RWTH Aachen: Research partner, specialized in model-based development of adsorption systems; responsible for the development of the necessary models and methods for scale-up from laboratory to plant scale
  • 3P Instruments GmbH & Co. KG: Industrial partner; manufacturer and distributor for measurement analysis; responsible for small-scale adsorption experiments and model-based determination of the kinetic coefficients

We are happy to be part of this research project and hope for a good cooperation with the project partners!

Do you have questions about gas separation by adsorption? Please contact us:

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