Membranes for Air Venting and Retaining VOCs in Gasoline Storage Tanks

EPA Contract Number: 68D02014
Title: Membranes for Air Venting and Retaining VOCs in Gasoline Storage Tanks
Investigators: Nemser, Stuart
Small Business: Compact Membrane Systems Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: April 1, 2002 through September 1, 2002
Project Amount: $70,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2002) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Pollution Prevention , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Fugitive emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from gasoline marketing facilities continues to be an energy, safety, and environmental issue. Beginning in model year 2000, all vehicles are required to have an onboard refueling vapor recovery (ORVR) system, which will increase fugitive emissions from refueling stations because of the interface between ORVR vehicles and gasoline station underground storage tanks (USTs). The increase of VOCs is attributed to the ingestion of fresh air into the UST and mixing with the gasoline, causing an approximate 40 percent vapor growth. This growth increases the UST pressure and vents VOCs into the atmosphere.

Conventional VOC recovery membranes (silicone rubber) preferentially transport organics over air. Although this system has shown success in some gasoline/air separations, it is not appropriate for air venting in USTs. Therefore, Compact Membrane Systems, Inc. (CMS) will develop a reverse-membrane system that allows for rapid venting of air while retaining gasoline in the UST. This membrane system will represent a simple single-stage, one-unit operation versus alternative technologies that are more complex.

CMS has developed a system that uses a specialty-coated membrane and pressure differential that separates clean air from the VOCs and allows the fresh air to be exhausted into the atmosphere. This system will be built and evaluated first in CMS' laboratory and then at an actual gasoline station. Specifically, in collaboration with industrial partners, CMS will be able to demonstrate performance at an actual gasoline station during Phase I. Results will be compared to alternative technologies such as flares. Also in the economical evaluation, CMS will consider specific hybrid systems if needed to meet target goals.

Preliminary laboratory work indicates that the membrane system will control 90?95 percent of VOC emission. This project will enhance performance to 98 percent emission reduction by introducing novel system and membrane enhancements. Preliminary field tests indicate savings performance to 98 percent emission reduction by introducing novel system enhancements. Preliminary field tests also indicate a savings ranging from 0.15 to 0.25 percent of all retail gasoline delivered in the United States. Based on a total of 118 billion gallons of gasoline dispensed in the United States, 0.15 percent recovery represents a potential emission reduction of 180,000,000 gallons per year. This has large value for both emissions reduction and cost savings.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, air venting, volatile organic compounds, VOCs, onboard refueling vapor recovery system, underground storage tanks, USTs, emissions., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Toxics, Sustainable Industry/Business, Chemical Engineering, air toxics, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Sustainable Environment, Environmental Chemistry, VOCs, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Civil Engineering, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, Environmental Engineering, gaseous effluent streams, membrane technology , gas streams, VOC removal, underground storage tanks, gasoline storage tanks, fugitive emissions, treatment, reverse membrane system, VOC recovery, VOC emission controls, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • SBIR Phase II:

    Membranes for Air Venting and Retaining VOCs in Gasoline Storage Tanks  | Final Report