Surface Modification of Nanoporous Zeolite Pervaporation Membranes for Enhanced Biomass Product Recovery

Period of Performance: 01/01/2004 - 12/31/2004


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

ITN Energy Systems, Inc.
8130 Shaffer Parkway Array
Littleton, CO 80127
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

University of Colorado Boulder
572 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
Institution POC


75189-While many high-value, low-volume chemicals, commodity chemicals, and fuels can be generated from ¿green¿ and renewable biomass feedstocks, their relatively high cost, compared to fossil fuel production, limits commercial application. One of the primary obstacles is the lack of cost-effective product recovery techniques, such as advanced separation membranes, which could serve as an alternative to energy intensive and expensive distillation processes. This project will develop versatile surface modification techniques to independently control the pore size and surface chemistry of zeolite pervaporation membranes, to enable enhanced liquid-liquid separations to remove biomass products from pyrolytic oils and fermentation broths. In Phase I, advanced surface modification techniques will be developed to create hydrophobic surfaces on large pore hydrophilic zeolite supports. The efficient removal of dilute organics from water, as required for the removal of acetic acid from a fermentation broth, will be demonstrated with the modified membranes. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by the awardee: The proposed approach should result in a robust, cost-effective ceramic membrane technology for enhanced liquid-liquid separations. The flexible nature of the surface modification would allow the membranes to be tailored for the recovery of numerous chemical and fuel products from biomass-derived pyrolytic oils and fermentation broths. The technology would make biomass feedstocks more competitive with fossil fuel feedstocks, especially when one accounts for environmental impacts and the relationship to national security and trade deficits.