Low Cost Oxygen Enriched Air by Membrane Separation

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Compact Membrane Systems, Inc.
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Oxygen enriched air (OEA) can be a valuable tool to enhance combustion processes, reduce CO2 emissions per unit of heat generated and also concentrate CO2 to enhance subsequent CO2 concentration ahead of CO2 sequestering. OEA reduces the presence of parasitic nitrogen and therefore flame temperature and associated heat transfer is higher with OEA. Studies show that using 40-50% OEA, which is the program target, reduces fuel consumption by upwards of 60%. Often, cryogenic oxygen is diluted with air to provide target OEA levels for combustion processes, however, the use of 99+% oxygen mixed with air is thermodynamically inefficient. The program hypothesis is to successfully develop facilitated transport membranes (FTM) using high flux, chemically and thermally resistant amorphous perfluoromembranes as the base matrix for FTM with addition of oxygen carriers. In Phase I we will first fabricate the target membrane structure. Then we will test both single gas (O2, N2) performance followed by mixed gas performance. Finally using this basic data we will do extensive engineering and economic evaluation to determine the cost of making 40-50% OEA by the CMS membrane process and compare it with conventional industrial processes (cryogenics, PSA, VSA) and high temperature oxygen separation membranes (based on ionic conduction in ceramic materials). Commercial Application and Other Benefit: Oxygen is one of the top five chemicals used domestically. Small to medium size furnaces, which represent approximately 40% of the nations furnaces, consume less than 5 tons/day of oxygen. These 5 tons small to medium size furnaces would be ideal for low cost 40-50% OEA. Parallel CMS preliminary studies suggest if successful this program can produce 40-50% OEA for $30/ton which is 50% less than conventional processes.