Hydrocarbon Recovery from Petroleum Transfer Operations

EPA Contract Number: 68D00056
Title: Hydrocarbon Recovery from Petroleum Transfer Operations
Investigators: Wijmans, J. (Hans) G.
Small Business: Membrane Technology and Research Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: II
Project Period: September 1, 1990 through March 1, 1992
Project Amount: $150,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (1990) Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Pollution Prevention , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Approximately 1.2 million tons of hydrocarbons are released annually in the United States from petroleum storage and transfer operations. Typical hydrocarbons emitted are C3 through C6, alkanes, and C4 and C5 olefins. These emissions represent both an air pollution problem and a significant energy loss. The hydrocarbons are contributors to photo- chemical smog formation and their value is approximately 6 X 1013 Btu/year. The best opportunities for hydrocarbon recovery are airstreams generated during the loading and discharging of storage tanks. The results of the Phase I program solidly demonstrate that a membrane-based recov- ery system is capable of recovering more than 99% of the hydrocarbons in these airstreams and that the cost of the system is a fraction of the fuel value of the recovered hydrocarbons. Therefore, use of this process in industrial settings could be justified both on economic and environ- mental grounds.

The objective of the Phase 11 program is to fully demon- strate the process by building and operating a one-tenth- scale pilot unit. This unit will treat a 40-scfm gasoline vapor-laden airstream. The proposed recoery system com- bines compression-condensation with the membrane sepa- ration step. The hydrocarbon vapors will first be compressed and condensed at moderate (and, hence, economically achieved) pressures and temperatures. A membrane system will remove the remaining vapors. The hydrocarbon-en- riched permeate stream produced by the membrane system will be recirculated to the condenser. In the design and the operation of the pilot unit, special attention will be given to the fire and explosion hazards associated with handling gasoline vapor-air mixtures. The pilot system will be evalu- ated in a parametric study at Membrane Technology & Research, Inc.'s laboratories. This will provide the data necessary to optimize the process and to demonstrate the reliability and efficiency of the system to future industrial collaborators who would install the unit in the field in a Phase III program.

Supplemental Keywords:

RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Toxics, Sustainable Industry/Business, Chemical Engineering, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, HAPS, Technology for Sustainable Environment, tropospheric ozone, Chemistry and Materials Science, Engineering, Environmental Engineering, hydrocarbon, petroleum transfer operations, hydrocarbon recovery , hydrocarbons, pollution prevention, membrane technology

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final