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Cu-Pd Hydrogen Separation Membranes with Reduced Palladium Content and Improved Performance

Date Posted
USPN 8,608,829


This patented technology, "Cu-Pd Hydrogen Separation Membranes with Reduced Palladium Content and Improved Performance," consists of copper-palladium alloy compositions for hydrogen separation membranes that use less palladium and have a potential increase in hydrogen permeability and resistance to sulfur degradation compared to currently available copper-palladium membranes. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Researchers at NETL have identified the need for further materials performance testing to be completed for the alloy compositions described above. Performance testing would provide data related to membrane hydrogen permeability, flux, and membrane lifespan. Testing results would show the significance of the technological and economic impact of this technology compared to current hydrogen separation membrane technology. Results would also potentially validate the technology and allow for introduction into commercial industry.

The NETL Pittsburgh site has materials performance testing capabilities and is able to perform all the necessary tests. Approximately 320 hours of material performance testing is needed to test two most promising alloy compositions.


NETL is working to help produce and deliver hydrogen from fossil fuels including coal in commercially applicable and environmentally acceptable ways. To achieve this strategic national goal, advanced hydrogen separation technologies are needed to supply tomorrow’s energy and transportation systems with affordable hydrogen fuel. The goal of NETL’s hydrogen separation membrane research is to develop cost-effective and robust gas separation technologies to facilitate hydrogen production from fossil fuels. Membranes already exist that can be used to separate hydrogen and carbon dioxide, producing high purity H2, which can be used as fuel, and high purity carbon dioxide, which is ready for sequestration. However, these membranes are expensive and vulnerable to common impurities in coal-derived syngas, such as hydrogen sulfide. Current membrane research is, therefore, focused on increasing hydrogen permeability and decreasing membrane degradation in gases containing detrimental impurities.

Palladium is known to have high hydrogen selectivity and is consequently the one of the materials of choice for DOE research; however, palladium is expensive. This invention consists of copper-palladium alloy compositions that use less palladium than existing membranes. Adding copper and carefully selected ternary elements to palladium reduces the cost of the membrane while improving the resistance of the membrane to contaminants.

  • Provides less expensive membranes than existing palladium membranes
  • High resistance to degradation
  • Current data suggest high hydrogen permeability
  • Any fossil fuel refining process with hydrogen separation

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