DEVELOPMENT OF HIGH-PERFORMANCE CHEMICALLY RESISTANT COMPOSITE MEMBRANES

Period of Performance: 01/01/1990 - 12/31/1990

$50K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Bend Research, Inc.
64550 RESEARCH RD
Bend, OR 97701
Firm POC

Abstract

POLYMERIC MEMBRANES HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO PERFORM ENERGY-EFFICIENT SEPARATIONS IN APPLICATIONS IN A GAS- AND VAPOR-SEPARATIONS MARKET THAT TOTALS AT LEAST $750 MILLION. HOWEVER, THE CURRENT SALES OF MEMBRANE SYSTEMS FOR THESE APPLICATIONS IS ONLY A FEW TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS--PRIMARILY BECAUSE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE MEMBRANES CANNOT WITHSTAND EXPOSURE TO THE HYDROCARBONS AND SOLVENTS OFTEN PRESENT IN INDUSTRIAL GAS PROCESS STREAMS. THE PURPOSE OF THE WORK PROPOSED HERE IS TO DEVELOP A NEW GENERATION OF CHEMICALLY INERT MEMBRANES. SPECIFICALLY, THESE WILL BE THIN-FILM-COMPOSITE (TFC) MEMBRANES IN WHICH CONVENTIONAL HIGH-PERFORMANCE MEMBRANE FILMS WILL BE SUPPORTED BY A NOVEL POLYMERIC MICROPOROUS SUPPORT HAVING CHEMICAL RESISTANCE FAR SURPASSING ANY POLYMER SUPPORTS NOW AVAILABLE. THIS NEW SUPPORT MATERIAL WILL BE INSOLUBLE IN ALL NORMAL SOLVENTS AND WILL RESIST PLASTICIZATION AND OTHER PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH CURRENT POLYMERIC SUPPORTS. DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SUPPORT IS THE FOCUS OF THE PROPOSED PROGRAM. THE RESULTING COMPOSITE MEMBRANE IS EXPECTED TO PERMIT CONSIDERABLE EXPANSION OF THE CURRENTLY LIMITED MEMBRANE MARKET. PHASE I WILL BE AIMED AT PROVING THAT SUITABLE SUPPORTS--I.E., SOLVENT-RESISTANT SUPPORTS WITH THE HIGH PERMEABILITY, STRENGTH, AND CHARACTERISTICS NECESSARY TO SUPPORT INTERFACIAL FILMS--CAN BE FABRICATED. OPTIMIZATION OF THESE SUPPORTS AND FABRICATION OF TFC MEMBRANES AND MODULES WILL BE CARRIED OUT IN PHASE II, ALONG WITH BENCH- AND FIELD-TESTING THAT WILL ESTABLISH MODULE PERFORMANCE. THIS PHASE II PROGRAM WILL BE DESIGNED TO PRODUCE RESULTS SUFFICIENT TO CONVINCE OUR PHASE III PARTNER(S) TO SUPPORT FINAL R&D, FIELD-TESTING, AND ULTIMATE COMMERCIALIZATION OF THE SOLVENT-RESISTANT MEMBRANE.