Ultrasound-based separation of ethanol-water mixtures is economically advantageous and sustainable

Ji Woo Ha, Junli Liu, Hao Feng, Nikolaos V. Sahinidis, Hyerin Seo, Jeffrey J. Siirola, Jonggeol Na

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ultrasonic separation of azeotropic mixtures has long been proposed as a promising separation technique, especially for ethanol-water mixtures. Since ultrasonic separation operates at ambient pressure, uses electricity as an energy source, and does not involve phase transitions, it is expected to have environmental advantages over conventional technologies. However, the economic and environmental potential of ultrasonic separation on a commercial scale remains unknown. We conduct a combined experimental and computational study leading to a data-driven techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment of commercial-scale ultrasonic separation. We obtain experimental measurements of ethanol-water ultrasonic separation under room pressure, temperatures of 10°C to 55°C, and carrier gas flow rates of 1 to 5 L min−1 and use them to develop process simulations. Our economic and environmental evaluations show that commercial-scale ultrasonic separation can reduce total annualized cost by more than 10% and CO2-eq emissions by more than 40%, making it a potentially attractive alternative to conventional thermal separation technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101785
JournalCell Reports Physical Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 21 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

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© 2024 The Author(s)


  • ethanol
  • life cycle assessment
  • nonequilibrium
  • nonthermal
  • process
  • separation
  • techno-economic analysis
  • ultrasound


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