Novel Membranes for Enhancing Value of Bio-Oil

Period of Performance: 01/01/2009 - 12/31/2009


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Compact Membrane Systems, Inc.
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Biomass fast pyrolysis fuel (BioOil) is a liquid fuel made from wood chips and the low-grade wood byproducts of timber harvesting. However, when BioOil is stored, its chemicals polymerize, aided by the oxygen present in the BioOil. As a consequence, the viscosity of the BioOil increases over time, and, under extreme conditions, it can become a solid. In addition, the presence of water results in a thermal penalty when the BioOil is used as a fuel. The goal of this project is to develop a simple low-cost system that reduces both the oxygen and water contents of the BioOil. The approach will be based on a previously-developed family of non-porous amorphous membranes with extremely high flux for both oxygen and water. By passing the Bio-Oil across the surface of the membranes, both the water and the dissolved or dispersed oxygen can simultaneously be removed. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: In addition to the Bio-Oil application, this platform technology should be applicable to a number of markets that deal with aggressive chemicals and the need to remove water and oxygen. The new technology could replace vacuum dehydrator systems, the leading technology used for reducing dissolved water, which tend to be off-line and fairly expensive. Finally, BioOil production plants could provide jobs in a badly needed market for the timber industry's wood chips.