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Membrane Preconcentrator for Portable Trace VOC Detectors

Award Information

Environmental Protection Agency
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2007 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Membrane Technology and Research, Inc.
39630 Eureka Drive Newark, CA 94560
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2007
Title: Membrane Preconcentrator for Portable Trace VOC Detectors
Agency: EPA
Contract: EP-D-07-085
Award Amount: $344,866.00


A volatile organic compound (VOC) detection system that is portable, sensitive to the low-ppb level, and able to provide reliable measurements in real time is needed for environmental compliance monitoring and process control in chemical plants. Recently, handheld and battery-powered ppb-level VOC photoionization detectors (PID) have become commercially available. However, the presence of water in the sample air interferes with the detection accuracy in PIDs. This proposal describes the development of a membrane device to remove water vapor from th gas being sent to portable PID-based VOC detectors. The membrane uses a perfluoro polymer that is water permeable and VOC-rejecting. The membrane device is compact, lightweight and energy efficient, which makes it convenient to integrate into a portable detection system. To reduce water relative humidity in the air from 100% to 10% while sending 200 mL/min gas to the detector, a membrane with and area of 0.1 m2 is required. In the Phase I project, membranes with the required permeance and selectivity were prepared and made into bench-scale modules with various configurations and the required membrane area of 0.1 m2. These modules were evaluated for nitrogen/toluene separation, and the configuration was optimized to achieve better separation performance. In addition to removing water from air, these modules have been demonstrated to enrich VOC content by 10 to 100 fold in the gas sent to the detector. In Phase II, we will optimize module configurations using more innovative designs for improved water removal performance, and construct a prototype membrane device to deliver to our business partner, RAE Systems, Inc. for testing and evaluation. Integrating such a membrane device with a handheld ppb-level; VOC detector, such as the ppbRAE Plus detector made by RAE Systems, only adds 30-40% by volume and 100% by weight, which would provide an easily portable system with much improved performance.

Principal Investigator:

Haiqing Lin
Senior Research Scientist

Business Contact:

E. G. Weiss
Business Manager
Small Business Information at Submission:

Membrane Technology & Research, Inc.
1360 Willow Rd, Suite 103 Menlo Park, CA 94025

EIN/Tax ID: 942795892
Number of Employees: N/A
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No