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Comparison of Designs of Hydrogen Isotope Separation Columns by Numerical Modeling

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-20, 18:10 authored by David B. Robinson, Maher Salloum
Mixtures of gas-phase hydrogen isotopologues (diatomic combinations of protium, deuterium, and tritium) can be separated using columns containing a solid such as palladium that reversibly absorbs hydrogen. A temperature-swing process can transport hydrogen into or out of a column by inducing temperature-dependent absorption or desorption reactions. We consider two designs: a thermal cycling absorption process, which moves hydrogen back and forth between two columns, and a simulated moving bed (SMB), where columns are in a circular arrangement. We present a numerical mass and heat transport model of absorption columns for hydrogen isotope separation. It includes a detailed treatment of the absorption–desorption reaction for palladium. By comparing the isotope concentrations within the columns as a function of position and time, we observe that SMB can lead to sharper separations for a given number of thermal cycles by avoiding the remixing of isotopes.

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