This study describes the successful separation of acrylonitrile (ACN) from dilute aqueous streams using pervaporation process. The influences of ACN feed concentration, permeate pressure, operating temperature, feed flow rate and membrane thickness on the membrane separation performance were investigated. The results showed that with an increase in ACN concentration in the feed solution, the permeation flux of ACN increased while the enrichment factor decreased. It was also indicated that increasing the permeate pressure reduced the driving force for mass transfer and consequently the permeation flux dropped while the enrichment factor enhanced. Polydimethylsiloxane membranes used in this study showed very good properties in the separation process, leading to enrichment factors in the range of 70–140. Furthermore, the activation energy for pervaporation of both ACN and water calculated from Arrhenius plot indicated that the permeation of water through the membrane was more temperature dependant than ACN.
Keywords: acrylonitrile, membrane separation, PDMS, pervaporation, wastewater