Novel Membranes for Natural Gas Dehydration

EPA Contract Number: EPD11043
Title: Novel Membranes for Natural Gas Dehydration
Investigators: Lin, Haiqing
Small Business: Membrane Technology and Research Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2011 through August 31, 2011
Project Amount: $80,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Innovation in Manufacturing


Before entering the national pipeline distribution system, all natural gas must be dried, which is currently achieved using glycol dehydrators. However, the glycol dehydrators extract hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the raw natural gas streams. In the U.S. alone, the VOC emissions from dehydrators total an estimated 44,000 tons per year, half of which are benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX). Controlling the emissions of these organic pollutants to meet clean air regulations imposed by the U.S. EPA is becoming one of the largest environmental challenges facing the natural gas industry today. 

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes to develop an environmentally benign and economically viable membrane process for natural gas dehydration, with essentially zero emissions of hazardous VOCs. These membranes will permeate water and reject methane and VOCs, leaving the VOCs as a useful fuel component of the dry natural gas product. The proposed membranes would provide far superior water/methane separation performance compared to conventional anisotropic membranes. If successful the new membranes will make membrane-based natural gas dehydration technically and economically superior to glycol dehydration, and provide relief from the current VOC emission problems of glycol dehydrators.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report