Company is Attempting to Meet Expanding Use of Gas Separation Membranes for Bioethanol Dehydration
TOKYO, August 10, 2006_Ube Industries, Ltd. today announced that it will ramp up production of polyimide hollow fibers for gas separation membranes at Ube Chemical Factory to meet rising demand for nitrogen separation membranes and alcohol dehydration membranes. Production is scheduled to double in October 2007.
Increased production will coincide with a partial transfer of facilities for producing gas separation membrane modules to the Sakai Factory, resulting in a two-factory system that will boost annual module production from 20,000 to 40,000 units.
Ube Industries' gas separation membrane business, with its long history of over 20 years, was originally centered on the sales of hydrogen separation membranes for hydrogen recovery in the petroleum refining and chemical industries.
However, many new applications have been discovered in recent years for nitrogen separation modules, including nitrogen-filled tires. With the increasing importance placed on safety worldwide, demand for the module is on the rise, primarily for explosion proofing for chemical plants, petroleum, and coal.
In addition, Ube Industries is the first and only company in the world to establish special technology enabling the dehydration of alcohol using organic membranes. The alcohol dehydration membrane produced by this technology is being introduced at one major ethanol refining plant after another, mainly in the U.S. and Europe, due to the rapid increase in the demand for bioethanol as a gasoline additive. The expansion of production capacity for alcohol dehydration membranes has become a pressing matter in responding to this demand.
In addition to its existing hydrogen separation membranes, dehumidification membranes, and oxygen enrichment membranes, Ube Industries will continue to expand its business, primarily for nitrogen separation membranes and alcohol separation membranes. Meanwhile, the company is also planning to broadly expand its separation membrane business, which contributes to the solving of environmental problems in such areas as biogases, methane concentration in landfill gases, carbon dioxide recovery, and high-purity hydrogen separation.