Standard Article

Oxygen–Nitrogen Separation

Membrane Processes

  1. Dipak Rana,
  2. Takeshi Matsuura

Published Online: 27 SEP 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118522318.emst099

Encyclopedia of Membrane Science and Technology

Encyclopedia of Membrane Science and Technology

How to Cite

Rana, D. and Matsuura, T. 2013. Oxygen–Nitrogen Separation. Encyclopedia of Membrane Science and Technology. 1–26.

Author Information

  1. University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 27 SEP 2013


This article outlines briefly the current status of material design, module design, process and system design, and commercial applications of membrane air separation. In particular, efforts were made to collect the latest experimental data available in the scientific literature. As a result of the literature search, it was found that investigation of various polyimides has been dominating in the material design of polymers, while development of mixed-matrix membranes has been attempted to combine advantageous features of inorganic and polymeric materials. Module designs are mostly based on hollow fiber and spiral-wound modules. Economic optimization is the criteria for the process and system design. Applications are mainly in the production of oxygen-enriched air and nitrogen gas. Production of high purity oxygen from air has not yet been achieved commercially.

This review is focused on polymeric and polymer-related membranes for air separation. Therefore, only limited information is given on inorganic membrane materials that are based on oxygen ion transport mechanism, for example, perovskite.


  • air separation;
  • oxygen-enriched air;
  • nitrogen-enriched air;
  • cost-effective process;
  • polymeric membrane