Membranes for Air Venting and Retaining VOCs in Gasoline Storage Tanks

EPA Contract Number: EPD04053
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: II
Project Period: April 1, 2004 through June 30, 2007
Project Amount: $225,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2004) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Pollution Prevention , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development


The SBIR Phase I research project was very successful. Field results in commercial applications showed an operational air/volatile organic compound (VOC) selectivity of 27. Performance surpassed the California Air Resource Board (CARB) emissions goal. Equally as important, Compact Membrane Systems, Inc. (CMS) demonstrated further membrane improvements with a novel membrane product concept.

Major advantages of CMS membrane technology include: (1) it is recovery versus abatement driven, (2) product and manufacturing has been established, and (3) it has broad platform capabilities and a strong patent position. This combination provides for a very powerful and broad VOC recovery program. Although the program focus is gasoline underground storage tanks (UST), the technology developed in this project will have broad value for many other VOC emission sources.

The high gas transport and chemical resistance of CMS' reverse separation membrane (RSM) provides the opportunity to use them as process recovery devices to recover high-value materials such as reactor feeds, products, and solvents, and return them to process. Examples of a broader utility of CMS' RSM for other VOC recovery applications include tank farms and marine terminals, offshore oil production operations, dry cleaning, chemical and polymer manufacturing process vents, and soil vapor extraction.

Data indicate that a market need exists well past 2020, and that CMS is the first to seek CARB certification. No other technology presently is in place to meet CARB gasoline UST requirements. Conventional VOC recovery membranes (silicone rubber) preferentially transport organic vapors over air. This system is less appropriate for air venting in USTs. Therefore, CMS developed perfluoro polymer RSMs that allow for rapid air venting while retaining gasoline in USTs. The CMS membrane system has excellent chemical and thermal stability.

Based on these successes, CMS will perform extensive Phase II field demonstrations. These extensive field demonstrations can be achieved in Phase II based on existing strong commercial and developmental relationships that CMS has in place. These include commercial and licensing arrangements with two large industrial membrane companies as well as relationships with major companies servicing USTs. Phase II activities will include:

• Building and testing a prototype system for field demonstrations on USTs.

• Expanding demonstrations to include both summer (low volatility) and winter (high volatility) fuels. Also, demonstrating the prototype on both balanced and vacuum UST systems.

• Demonstrating that both the CMS system and product have value beyond USTs by demonstrating performance on VOC recovery from a non-UST system.

• Using the above results, perform detailed engineering analyses (to determine whether other applications) CMS system is justified on economic recovery or environmental terms.

• Demonstrate whether the CMS VOC recovery technology is a broad technology platform.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 3 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, volatile organic compound, VOC, gasoline storage tank, underground storage tank, UST, California Air Resource Board, CARB, emissions, reverse separation membrane, RSM., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Sustainable Industry/Business, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, air toxics, Chemicals, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Engineering, air pollutants, air pollution control, hazardous emissions, fugitive emissions, emissions control, membrane process, underground gasoline storage tanks, VOC recovery, soil vapor extraction, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), membrane technology, VOC filters

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report

  • SBIR Phase I:

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