What is it about?

The purification of ethanol from water is a key step in the production of biofuels: hence, we need an efficient way to separate water from ethanol. In a previous work, we showed that separation of water from ethanol can be achieved by using high pressures and pores with the right size and geometry. Here we used the same method, but a different porous material, to remove water from a solution containing only a little amount of water. It works!

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Why is it important?

We discovered a new, intriguing effect: pressure helps to remove water from the solution, even if water is present in low concentration. This happens because the entrance of alcohol molecules in the pores, driven by pressure, makes it easier for water molecules to be captured by the zeolite. Our calculations showed that water forms hydrogen bonds with the alcohol molecules inside the zeolite.


Porous materials like the zeolite used in this work have many applications in industry and technology. To further improve these applications, it would be very important to better understand how molecules enter in the pores of zeolites. A good synergy between experimental and computational work is key to reach this goal.

Gloria Tabacchi
university of insubria

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Differential penetration of ethanol and water in Si-chabazite: High pressure dehydration of azeotrope solution, Microporous and Mesoporous Materials, August 2019, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.micromeso.2019.04.032.
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