Vortex tube lined with magnets for liquid oxygen separation

 Unmet Need: Alternative method for the separation and liquefaction of gases


A widely used method for the liquefaction of gas includes compression of gas in a compressor, preliminary cooling in a heat exchanger and further cooling it in an expander with subsequent expansion of the gas through a throttle valve to cause cooling and condensation. Subsequently the liquid phase of the gas is selected and separated. While this method is widely used it does have the disadvantage of the implementation complexity in operation, and the associated cost.


 The Technology: Modified Vortex tube


Researchers at WSU have developed a novel method for the liquefaction and separation of gases. Experiments done on hydrocarbon fluids with the controlled flow vortex tube have demonstrated the successful application of the vortex tube in chemical processing. If the temperature of a hydrocarbon mixture is at least higher than the dew point temperature, its physical behavior is similar to that of a gas. The enormous centrifugal force throws the particles to the periphery of the tube as liquids and in some cases allows for the gas to liquefy as they are carried out from a peripheral outlet. As the composition and conditions of the stream vary considerably, the vortex tube can be used with better results if its flow rate can be varied.



  • Large scale chemical separation
  • Liquefaction




  • Simultaneous separation and liquefaction
  • Effective scale up


Patent Information:


Patent application filed.

Learn More

Scott Steiger
Associate Director
Washington State University
(509) 335-7065
Reference No: 1841


Jacob Leachman
Carl Bunge
Jordan Raymond

Key Words

air separation
cryogenic distillation
vortex tube