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Pittsburgh, PA, United States

Grant
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 225.00K | Year: 2008

Although water recycle and reuse is considered good environmental practice, its implementation is highly dependent upon the economics and hence can be challenging to implement. An example is the recovery of low quality heat as water condensate from industrial flue gases. In this case, tremendous quantities of energy and water are lost out the stack in the US today, since no conventional condensing technology is economically viable. In this proposal, we present a unique technology/process, the Transport Membrane Condenser (TMC), to recover water with concomitant energy recovery from these low quality industrial emissions. As a specific example, industrial boilers account for nearly 35% of US industrial energy consumption. It is estimated that about 70 billion gallons of water per year are available in the combustion flue gas generated from these boilers. Our TMC technology can be used to recover the water vapor and energy from this flue gas for boiler feed water makeup. Prior to the Phase I submission, our pilot testing of the proposed TMC demonstrated the technical feasibility for high purity water recovery from the flue gas with concomitant heat recovery. However, its payback period exceeded the targeted one year set by our commercialization partner During Phase I avenues for cost reduction and performance enhancement with the modification of our existing commercial membranes have been identified and evaluated using a bench-top unit simulated the flue gas environment. We were able to achieve a 60% reduction In capital cost of the TMC element via significant enhancement of the membrane efficiency and reduction in the production costs. This reduction was well in excess of the 33 to 50% reduction necessary to deliver a one year capital payback as required by our commercialization partner. In this Phase II proposal, we will develop this modified membrane, verify its functional performance in a finalized module configuration, and conduct membrane manufacturing development while assisting our commercialization partners in preparing the technology/product/system for field demonstration The successful completion of this proposed Phase II project will produce a commercially viable “true” green process for water conservation and reuse along with significant energy savings. In addition to the boiler flue, during Phase I, additional water recycle/reuse and energy recovery was identify by our proposed technology for numerous industrial emission streams. Further, this transport membrane condenser can offer a truly "green" agricultural greenhouse operation via water recycle. energy storage/reuse, humidity control, and elimination of fungicide use.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.97K | Year: 2011

R & amp;D activities on membrane-based separations have been extensive in the past several decades due to the potential to provide more energy-efficient separation processes than conventional distillation, extraction, absorption, adsorption, etc. Its simplicity, essentially as an advanced filter, offers significant advantage in operation, in particular for applications, which can best be deployed through a distributed network concept, such as distributed hydrogen production promoted by US DOE recently, distributed power generation from locally available feedstocks, etc. However, commercial implementation of membrane processes in this area, though consistent with the rising national energy and environmental concerns, has lagged. Two key barriers are identified: (i) performance or material stability and reliability barriers and (ii) barrier in integrating a new membrane process into an existing process. The above barriers have limited their uses in distributed production applications, which usually deal with variable feedstocks and require operational simplicity and stability due to the lack of highly technically trained operators on-staff. Our proposed industrial membrane process system will attempt to overcome the above barriers with a focus on the use of our commercial inorganic membranes for used oil re-refining through nationwide distributed network of facilities. The performance and materials stability and integration barriers have been overcome by our proposed industrial membrane system. In this proposal we develop an innovative solution to address the remaining barrier, i.e., reliability, which is critical for a membrane system fed with variable sources of feedstock. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: By re-refining waste oils, we project about 65 million barrels per year of savings potential can be achieved, resulting in about 1 to 1.5% reduction in crude imports. Recently, many new green energy sources have been developed as a result of the push by the current and previous administrations; however, the development of a high quality liquid hydrocarbon fuel and/or a replacement for liquid fuels remains a considerable challenge. Thus, any reduction in liquid hydrocarbon usage and imports via this proposed project is significant and complements the national energy technology development trend. Finally, due to the distributed generation of waste oil throughout the country, waste oil re-refining is best implemented through a distributed network of facilities.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2010

This SBIR Phase I project will develop a method that utilizes a carbon based adsorptive surface flow membrane to perform continuous concentration of methane from raw bio-gas from large animal feed operations. The membrane can upgrade biogas at 40 to 65% CH4 to 90%+ CH4 with <10% CO2 at minimal/no pre-compression. Then, the upgraded methane can be used to generate pipeline quality methane, to produce peak time electrical power from on-site gas storage tanks for resale to the grid and/or to generate power or heat for in-house use. The resulting methane can be used on site, supplied via pipeline after being pressurized, or be feed to an on site electrical generating plant.

The broader/commercial impact of the project will be first to reduce the release of the greenhouse gas methane, second to produce a stream of high quality natural gas at a theoretically lower cost than competing technologies.


Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2009

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a one-step membrane reactor-based process to clean-up, concentrate, and condition bio-based syngas to make it suitable for downstream processing into fuel or chemicals. The biomass-based energy production pathway has been favored recently due to no/minimal net CO2 emission. The recent skyrocketing prices of imported crude have made domestically available biomass a very attractive alternative fuel and chemical source. Thermochemical conversion of biomass into fuels and chemicals has been considered one of the better developed bio-based energy production processes. However, today for thermochemical conversion of biomass to play a significant role in reducing our country's dependence on imported fossil fuels, the syngas generated during biomass gasification must be (i) meticulously cleaned to remove trace contaminants (e.g., tar, H2S, NH3, HCl, etc.), (ii) concentrated via removal of a broad range of diluents (e.g., N2, O2, CH4, etc.), and (iii) conditioned to the proper ratio to meet the feedstock requirements of such diverse products as hydrogen for fuel cells or syngas for methanol and higher alcohol synthesis and for hydrocarbon production via Fischer-Tropsch. During Phase I of this project, the gas clean-up/concentration/conditioning process based upon the proposed one-step concept will be demonstrated in a bench top unit with synthetic feeds. The experimental and simulation results thus generated will be used to validate the proposed technical concept and provide economic basis for the next phase technical and commercial development with an end user participant. The development of this process will play a pivotal role in linking the existing upstream biomass gasification technology with the downstream hydrogen or syngas use technology. The production cost using existing technology was about 2 to 4 times of the cost of fossil diesel in 2004. By implementing this technology, the projected bio-based fuel cost will be in line with current fossil fuel prices according to preliminary cost analyses. The development and commercialization of this process will play a pivotal role in linking the existing upstream biomass gasification technology with the downstream syngas to fuel/chemical conversion technologies and will boost the domestic energy supply with minimal net greenhouse gas emissions.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2010

In the US today, over 1,800 trillion BTU/year is lost as waste heat from industrial processes as has been identified by the DOE. The energy loss in this category is primarily derived from the waste heat contained in flue gas and drying operation exhausts generated from a wide array of manufacturing processes. The recovery of this

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