A Novel Membrane System for Recovering Volatile Organic Contaminants from Air

EPA Contract Number: 68D30084
Title: A Novel Membrane System for Recovering Volatile Organic Contaminants from Air
Investigators: McCray, Scott B.
Small Business: Bend Research Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: II
Project Period: September 1, 1993 through July 1, 1995
Project Amount: $149,706
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (1993) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , SBIR - Air Pollution , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


The removal of volatile organic contaminants (VOCs) from industrial process gases constitutes a significant industrial and environmental problem worldwide. Recovery of VOCs is advantageous for environmental process-efficiency reasons, but conventional technologies and "first generation" membrane technologies for VOC removal have drawbacks that limit their use for this application. These drawbacks include limitations on the percentage of VOCs that can be removed, excessive energy consumption, and inability to withstand exposure to the feed-stream components and harsh operating conditions.

The overall goal of this program is to develop a membrane-based system for recovering VOCs that avoids the drawbacks of conventional unit processes and first-generation membrane technologies. This new membrane-based VOC-recovery system will be applicable to a wide range of VOCs and will be capable of reducing the concentrations of VOCs from very high concentrations to the 20- ppm level or below, recovering the VOCs in liquid form for disposal of reuse.

In Phase I, system feasibility was demonstrated. Hollow-fiber membranes were successfully developed from new solvent-resistant polymers, incorporated into high-efficient modules, and tested. The modules effectively reduced the concentration of a target VOC-- toluene--in nitrogen feed streams from 5,500 ppm to 20 ppm and maintained performance in long-term (650-hour) tests. An economic analysis showed the proposal system offers major cost advantages over competing technologies.

The focus of the Phase II program is to:

  1. Optimize the VOC-selective coatings used on the hollow fiber membranes;
  2. Scale up the membrane modules to a size that will allow field tests and pilot tests at a reasonable scale; and
  3. Field-test this technology.

Supplemental Keywords:

Scientific Discipline, Air, Toxics, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, air toxics, Environmental Chemistry, Chemicals, Chemistry, VOCs, Civil/Environmental Engineering, Chemistry and Materials Science, Engineering, 33/50, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, Environmental Engineering, ambient air quality, emission control strategies, stationary sources, Toluene, air pollutants, emission control technologies, membrane technology , VOC removal, air pollution, silicon chemistries, ambient emissions, atmospheric dispersion, organic vapor permeation membranes, ceramic membranes, emissions contol engineering, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), membrane technology

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final