Enhanced Drying of Pipeline Ethanol

EPA Contract Number: EPD12021
Title: Enhanced Drying of Pipeline Ethanol
Investigators: Campos, Daniel
Small Business: Compact Membrane Systems Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2012 through August 31, 2012
Project Amount: $80,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Sustainabile Utilization of Biomass


There continues to be a need for low cost production and shipment of fuel-grade ethanol from agricultural sources. Ethanol from agricultural sources has many advantages including developing fuel independence and significantly reducing greenhouse gases. Also, bio-ethanol has significant value as an oxygenate and octane improver. Although ethanol from agricultural sources has many advantages the cost of ethanol still tends to be significantly higher than gasoline and this most likely will limit its transition into the fuel industry. Shipping by truck, ship or rail is a major contributor to the high cost of implementing fuel grade ethanol. Shipping ethanol by pipeline is significantly less expensive but because ethanol is hydroscopic, pipeline ethanol usually includes water. This water can cause problems in engines and cause gasoline to irreversibly phase separate in ethanol-water systems. Compact Membrane Systems (CMS) proposes a novel and simple membrane process that can easily remove water from ethanol so that it can be shipped by pipeline and consequently be less expensive than shipping by truck, ship or rail. The program will focus on a unique family of amorphous perfluoromembranes. Working closely with key suppliers, CMS will supply amorphous perfluoromembranes that do not contain any perfluoro-octanoic acid (PFOA). This is a major EPA objective. Our program goal is to show that the CMS system has significantly superior economics (e.g., 50%) cost improvement relative to existing remedies. In Phase I, we will demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed CMS technical approach. The goal in Phase II will entail long-term testing of a pipeline ethanol platform and development of the process with our existing industrial partners. A successful Phase II program will lead to the scale-up of a pilot manufacturing effort with commercial testing and qualification.

Supplemental Keywords:

PFOA, water removal, ethanol, amorphous perfluoromembranes, perfluoro-octanoic acid, ethanol pipeline, SBIR

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report