The chemicals and materials enterprise is one of the great consumers of energy in industry. One very large piece of this energy consumption is the operation of separations. Separations includes many elements of isolation, purification, and some kinds of cleaning. In addition to the energy that is input into the traditional separation systems, the embedded energy that is contained within the solvents that have often been used in separation systems is also very significant.
The development of systems that can be designed to facilitate “self-separation” can decrease energy and material usage when done properly. Designing a molecular product to separate from its reaction matrix or enabling an impurity generated in a process to self-separate due to intrinsic factors can have sustainability advantages.