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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Engineering : Postgrad (School of Engineering)

Postgraduate Course: Adsorption (MSc) (PGEE11081)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Engineering CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe course will cover the basic principles of adsorption and
adsorption separation processes including both equilibrium and
dynamic modelling and a brief overview of representative
industrial processes. The main topics will be:
Forces and energetics of adsorption;
Adsorption equilibrium (including both single and
multicomponent systems);
Adsorbent materials (with emphasis on zeolites and activated
Sorption kinetics and measurement of transport properties;
Adsorption Column Dynamics (including linear, non-linear and
multicomponent/non-isothermal systems);
Adsorption Separation processes (choice of regeneration
methods, pressure swing, thermal swing and displacement
Membrane Processes (brief introduction)
The relationship between the properties of the adsorbent and
the process applications will be emphasized.
Course description This course comprises 20 hours of lectures assessed by written examination and coursework.


The course is delivered in two hour lectures.

Week 1
Importance of adsorption in a separation process
Historical perspective
Advantages and limitations
Forces and Energetics of Adsorption
Physical adsorption vs. chemisorption
van der Waals forces
Electrostatic forces
Polar/Non-Polar adsorbents
Heats of adsorption

Week 2
Adsorbent Materials
Selectivity and capacity
Carbons; Aluminas; Silica Gels; Zeolites; MOFs
Adsorption Equilibrium
Representation of equilibrium data
Brunauer classification
Monte Carlo simulation of adsorption equilibrium
Henry's Law
Langmuir, dual site Langmuir and Freundlich
Isosteric heat of adsorption
Gibbs isotherm
Spreading pressure

Week 3
Multicomponent Adsorption Equilibrium
Extended Langmuir isotherms
Thermodynamic consistency of multicomponent
Experimental measurements
Ideal Adsorbed Solution Theory (IAST)
Limits on applicability of IAST

Week 4
Characterization of Adsorbents
BET isotherm and area measurement
Capillary Condensation and the Kelvin equation
Measurement of pore size distributions
Gravimetric, volumetric and chromatographic
measurement of adsorption isotherms.

Week 5
Diffusion in Porous Solids
Mass transport mechanisms
Range of diffusivities
Definitions and relationship between the various
micropore diffusivities
Chemical potential as driving force
Diffusion in macro/mesopores.
Measurement of Diffusion in Porous Solids
Classification of experimental methods
Microscopic (PFG NMR, QENS, Neutron Spin-Echo)
Mesoscopic (Single crystal membrane, FTSR and
interference microscopy)
FR, Chromatography, TAP, effectiveness factor
Examples from literature of incorrect interpretation of kinetic experiments.

Week 6
Adsorption Kinetics
Analytical solution to the diffusion equation with surface resistance.
Separation of variables.
Laplace transforms.
Properties of Laplace transforms.
Asymptotic limits and moments of solutions.
Inversion of solution using the method or residues.
Numerical solution using finite differences.
The Linear Driving Force model
Equivalence to the diffusion equation
Limitations at fast cycle times

Week 7
Adsorption Column Dynamics
Mass balance equation
Danckwerts boundary conditions
Equilibrium theory - isothermal single transition
Qualitative treatment from wave theory perspective
Moments and HETP
Constant and proportional pattern behaviour

Week 8
Adsorption Column Dynamics
Equilibrium theory - isothermal multicomponent
Solution for extended Langmuir isotherm
Equilibrium theory - non-isothermal systems
Watershed point and temperature swing adsorption

Week 9
Adsorption Separation Processes
Regeneration methods - T Swing, P Swing and
Cyclic batch vs continuous counter-current operation
Equilibrium vs Kinetic selectivity
Trace impurity removal
Bulk separations
Pressure Swing Adsorption Processes
Cycles and energy efficiency
PSA oxygen process
PSA nitrogen process (carbon molecular sieve)
Countercurrent and Simulated Countercurrent Processes
Adsorbent circulation - Hypersorption, Pursiv
UOP Simulated Moving Bed Sorbex Process
McCabe-Thiele design
Triangle theory of SMBs

Completion of Course
Review and open discussion.

Each lecture has corresponding self-study materials.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Course Start Date 15/01/2024
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 20, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 67 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 80 %, Coursework 20 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Two hour written examination - 80%
Coursework assignment - 20%
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Gain an understanding of the fundamental equilibrium and transport properties in adsorption.
  2. Gain a capability to model transient adsorption processes.
  3. Gain an understanding of the basic design of adsorption systems.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsAdsorption,Separation,emissions,molecular simulation,CCS Carbon Capture
Course organiserProf Stefano Brandani
Course secretaryMrs Shona Barnet
Tel: (0131 6)51 7715
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