Novel Ethanol Dehydration Membranes

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


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Compact Membrane Systems, Inc.
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


There continues to be a need to produce fuel-grade ethanol from renewable sources. However, the cost of agricultural-based ethanol is quite severe, despite the fact that existing and new legislation provides significant incentives for its use. This project addresses novel routes to enhance the low-cost production of high-quality dry-fuel-grade ethanol by means of a novel water-ethanol separation membrane process. In particular, the proposed process will be ideal for small applications. (Most existing biomass-to-ethanol plants are at least 40 million gallons per year, and very few are at 10 million gallons per year.) With highly concentrated streams of 60-90% ethanol, a membrane that can preferentially remove water would be ideal for the final drying stage (where the ethanol must reach concentrations of 99.5% to be designated as fuel grade). Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: In order to enhance energy independence, the government has established a target to replace 10% of gasoline consumption by biomass feed stock sources. The proposed membrane technology should have the high flux, chemical resistance, and thermal stability to be useful in this application and in many others.