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Wilmington, DE, United States

Agency: Department of Agriculture | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2014

Although conventional aqueous oil extraction which utilizes water as a solvent under atmospheric conditions has been around for a long time, it was not favored for large commercial operations because of its low oil extraction efficiency. Interest in aqueous extraction processes has been revived by increasing environmental concern about hexane which is the traditional solvent used by oilseed processors. The new technological developments such as accelerated solvent and enzyme aided water extraction methods improve oil yields and make aqueous processes economically viable as an environmentally benign cleaner alternative for oil extraction. The main limitation of aqueous extraction process is the formation of oil-in-water emulsion and its implications on downstream processing. Demulsification is one of the most critical processes associated with water extraction. Centrifugation and coalescence technology (addition of a compound that helps coalescence of oil as a continuous phase) are used to break emulsions. Centrifugation requires high energy input and the efficiency of the coalescence method tends to be low.Membrane technology can be an inexpensive and efficient alternative method for separation of oil and water phases from an emulsion. CMS has identified a low cost non-thermal process (room temperature) which can dramatically enhance separation of water from oil. Preliminary calculations suggest approximately 10-fold reduction in operating costs for the CMS membrane system. If this program is successful, we will be directly responsive to USDA & #39;s need for developing a process for using minimally or non-thermal techniques for food preservation. Since the process is low temperature with no gas-liquid interface, product degradation should be minimal and cost should be low.In this Phase I USDA SBIR, Compact Membrane Systems will work closely with Oklahoma State University to first fabricate targeted membrane modules and then demonstrate that these membrane modules can effectively remove water from wheat germ oil. Basic data from this evaluation will then be used for a preliminary economic evaluation of the drying process. Target processing costs are less than $0.01/gallon.

Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 998.25K | Year: 2014

Industrial hydrogen production relies primarily on natural gas and hydrocarbon feedstocks to drive the various reaction chemistries that lead to hydrogen generation. Carbon dioxide, the ultimate co- product when such feedstocks and processes are employed, necessarily becomes a major contaminant of the generated hydrogen. Thus, carbon dioxide isolation and removal is an important process step in the efficient, low cost purification and recovery of hydrogen from the intermediate reformed and synthesis gases. A new proprietary, chemically resistant and highly durable membrane being developed in this project will improve the separation efficiency and dramatically reduce energy requirements for the separation of carbon dioxide and hydrogen. In the Phase I program, membranes with CO2/H2 selectivities as high as 15 were developed. When compared to both amine scrubbers and pressure swing absorption processes, the CMS membrane process has dramatically lower capital and operating costs. Costs for a typical CMS membrane system is $58/MM SCF H2 while PSA and amine scrubber costs are between $162 and $1,072 MM SCF H2 for the same 99% H2 purity. In the Phase II program CO2/H2 selectivities up to 40 have been achieved. While membranes with more than adequate selectivity have been demonstrated, there is still significant room for improvement in CO2 permeance. This program will develop a high performance (both high selectivity and high permeance), robust membrane for the purification of hydrogen. The proposed membrane will employ a novel material with a high permeability for CO2. While this material can easily be formed into a membrane, making the material thin enough to provide high CO2 permeance is much more difficult. CMS has identified a means of forming this material into a thin, high permeance membrane. This membrane fabrication method will be developed to enable fabrication of prototype membranes for pilot tests. Besides the hydrogen generation processes mentioned already, the new membrane promises to have broad application in the hydrogen economy, hydrogen processing, synthesis gas production, hydrotreating, and sulfur removal processes. Improvements in hydrogen purification and separation efficiencies and the ready isolation of a concentrated carbon dioxide co-product will have direct benefits in emissions reductions, energy independence, and carbon management.

Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2015

Fossil fuels currently supply more than 85% of the worlds energy needs and combustion of these fuels is the source of 80% of all anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and is considered to be a major contributor to global warming. There is considerable interest in capturing carbon dioxide at large sources, electric power plants, and sequestering the gas. However, application of the existing technologies for carbon dioxide capture would significantly increase the cost of electric power generation.This program combines two novel technologies, the amorphous perfluoropolymer membrane gas/liquid contactor and ionic liquid absorbents, to create a novel system for a selectively separating carbon dioxide from flue gas and concentrating it for sequestration. The proposed system will be capable of capturing greater than 90% of the carbon dioxide emissions at electric power plants at a cost of less than $40 per tonne, substantially less than the currently available technologies. Earlier work has demonstrated the feasibility of capturing 90% of the carbon dioxide in a simulated flue gas stream. This program will focus on increasing the efficiency of the membrane contactor by improving the contactor design and selection of an ionic liquid absorbent with superior properties. Parallel CMS data suggests excellent fouling resistance. In Phase I we will first evaluate candidate Ionic Liquids and then test compatibility with our membrane system. Using the best Ionic Liquid CMS membrane candidate based on sorption capacity, complexity, stability, viscosity, CO2 diffusivity, and compatibility) we will customize system design followed by measuring sorption and desorption rates. Finally, using this above data we will conduct an engineering and economic evaluation to see if we project meeting our target. $30/ton with 90% carbon dioxide capture). While the focus of this program is on capturing carbon dioxide at electric power plants, many other applications can be considered. This is a platform technology for removing carbon dioxide gas from other gases. Two significant applications of interest are: separation of carbon dioxide from natural gas and upgrading of landfill gas.

Agency: Environmental Protection Agency | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 300.00K | Year: 2014

Solvents are valuable processing tools in the chemical and related industries used to enhance mass transfer, heat transfer and processing aids not used in the final product. Solvents are very valuable but cause significant problems with volatility and associated emissions. Manufacturing processes that utilize green technology or solvents for process improvement and reduced emissions are very desirable. This program addresses a family of green solvents that are superior to conventional solvents and have low volatility, resulting in fewer emissions problems.Compact Membrane Systems has developed an amorphous perfluoro membrane to enhance the use of these desirable green solvents. Recent developments allow working with green amorphous perfluoropolymers, specifically, the elimination of perfluoro octanoic acids (PFOA) in the synthesis of these 15 directly responsive to the EPA’s directive to eliminate PFOA surfactants. In Phase I, Compact Membrane Systems demonstrated in laboratory scale the concept of efficiently drying ionic liquids (ILs) for reuse using a perfluorinated composite membrane as well as the economic advantage. Ionic liquids are potentially advantageous in the processing/extraction of sugars from cellulosic biomass. Sugar recovery requires mixing the IL with water. The wet ionic liquid must be dehydrated for reuse. Efficient water removal from the ionic liquid was observed despite the low driving force for water permeation. The water permeance was approximately constant over a wide range of water concentration and temperature. Permeation of the IL through the membrane is negligible, resulting in extremely high water/IL separation factors. This leads to quantitative recovery of the IL, which is critical for low-cost pretreatment of biomass.In Phase II, Compact Membrane Systems will scale up the membrane system and build a pilot test unit to demonstrate the concept in pilot scale. The membrane system and process conditions to achieve IL dehydration for recycle will be optimized. Through a long-term test, the company will demonstratesystem performance stability and resistance to process upsets such as daily startups and shutdowns. Using the pilot scale data, Compact Membrane Systems will conduct an engineering and economic analysis to highlight the economic advantage of the proposed concept versus conventional technologies suchas evaporation and will verify that the IL can still pre-treat cellulosic biomass after multiple membrane dehydration cycles. Several organizations, including pioneers in the development and use of ionic liquids for processing biomass, are interested in partnering with Compact Membrane Systems regarding the development and implementation of methods for dewatering ionic liquids.

Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2014

Oxygen enriched air (OEA) can be a valuable tool to enhance combustion processes, reduce CO2 emissions per unit of heat generated and also concentrate CO2 to enhance subsequent CO2 concentration ahead of CO2 sequestering. OEA reduces the presence of parasitic nitrogen and therefore flame temperature and associated heat transfer is higher with OEA. Studies show that using 40-50% OEA, which is the program target, reduces fuel consumption by upwards of 60%. Often, cryogenic oxygen is diluted with air to provide target OEA levels for combustion processes, however, the use of 99+% oxygen mixed with air is thermodynamically inefficient. The program hypothesis is to successfully develop facilitated transport membranes (FTM) using high flux, chemically and thermally resistant amorphous perfluoromembranes as the base matrix for FTM with addition of oxygen carriers. In Phase I we will first fabricate the target membrane structure. Then we will test both single gas (O2, N2) performance followed by mixed gas performance. Finally using this basic data we will do extensive engineering and economic evaluation to determine the cost of making 40-50% OEA by the CMS membrane process and compare it with conventional industrial processes (cryogenics, PSA, VSA) and high temperature oxygen separation membranes (based on ionic conduction in ceramic materials). Commercial Application and Other Benefit: Oxygen is one of the top five chemicals used domestically. Small to medium size furnaces, which represent approximately 40% of the nations furnaces, consume less than 5 tons/day of oxygen. These 5 tons small to medium size furnaces would be ideal for low cost 40-50% OEA. Parallel CMS preliminary studies suggest if successful this program can produce 40-50% OEA for $30/ton which is 50% less than conventional processes.

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