Retrofitting Diesel Electrical Generators for Emission Reduction

EPA Contract Number: 68D03041
Title: Retrofitting Diesel Electrical Generators for Emission Reduction
Investigators: Nemser, Stuart
Small Business: Compact Membrane Systems Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: II
Project Period: May 1, 2003 through April 30, 2005
Project Amount: $225,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2002) Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Pollution Prevention , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Diesel generator sets (gen-sets) are used routinely to supply electrical power. Hospitals, businesses, and small communities use gen-sets to help reduce costs by load leveling and provide emergency power during blackouts (either scheduled or unscheduled). Recent power outages in California have led to large increases in the purchase of gen-sets, primarily for providing emergency power. In addition to providing value associated with load leveling and emergency power, gen-sets have an added value in that they can be installed relatively rapidly.

Although gen-sets are, in principle, under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation, many of these gen-sets are being rapidly installed with minimal concern for EPA emissions and exclusively focus on providing back-up power to avoid blackouts. The net effect of these events should be an increase in air pollutants (mostly NOx) as these gen-sets are brought online.

In Phase I, Compact Membrane Systems, Inc. (CMS) met and exceeded all project goals. This included: (1) demonstration of 50 percent NOx reduction while having minimal effect on other pollutants, (2) fabrication of prototype membrane systems/devices for easy installation or retrofit into diesel generators, and (3) enhanced overall membrane/system performance to perform better even when only low turbo pressure is available.

This success has led to the active participation in the project of a major industrial gas membrane company, a major diesel generator company, the U.S. Navy, and a major university. The participation of these groups will enhance Phase II and subsequent commercialization.

In Phase II, CMS will design and build full-size retrofit kits and install them on intermediate-scale diesel generators (e.g., 1,500 kw). Working with their diesel generator partner, CMS will modify turbocharger operating conditions and engine operating conditions to reduce NOx emissions and have a minimal effect on particulate emissions. Working with their industrial gas partner, CMS will optimize membrane design to match engine needs. The company also will demonstrate performance over an extended period of time to show system ruggedness. CMS will perform an economic evaluation to demonstrate that the retrofit system is cost effective compared to alternative systems.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, diesel generator sets, gen-sets, engine, emergency power, blackouts, NOx, air pollution, membrane, EPA., Scientific Discipline, Air, Sustainable Industry/Business, Air Pollution, air toxics, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Environmental Chemistry, Air Pollutants, Chemistry, Civil/Environmental Engineering, Chemistry and Materials Science, Engineering, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, Environmental Engineering, ambient air quality, emission control strategies, stationary sources, Nox, emission control technologies, environmentally friendly technology, green design, diesel engines, gen sets, membrane technology , clean technology, emission controls, ambient emissions, atmospheric dispersion, emissions control, innovative technology, diesel generators, air emissions, emissions contol engineering, industrial innovations, pollution prevention, nitrogen oxides (Nox), membrane technology, environmentally conscious design

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final

  • SBIR Phase I:

    Retrofitting Diesel Electrical Generators for Emission Reduction