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SBIR Phase I: Optimization and scaling of ladder polymers for membrane-based gas separations

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2151444
Agency Tracking Number: 2151444
Amount: $253,815.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: CT
Solicitation Number: NSF 21-562
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-08-15
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-07-31
Small Business Information
444 Somerville Avenue
Somerville, MA 02143
United States
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Holden Lai
 (415) 623-8616
Business Contact
 Holden Lai
Phone: (415) 623-8616
Research Institution

This broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project aims to develop membrane solutions to address opportunities in the gas and vapor separation market. Today, this market is dominated by energy-intensive thermal processes that have large carbon footprints, such as distillation and absorption/stripping. The current membrane solutions often lack the flux, recovery, and stability required for many applications. The membranes that will be developed in this project are formed from novel polymeric materials that have the highest combinations of permeability and selectivity out of all polymers reported in the open literature. If deployed commercially for renewable and/or traditional natural gas purification, these membranes could reduce energy consumption and product loss by over 40% and over 80%, respectively, compared to current commercial membranes. In this way, the advanced membranes being developed could save up to $2 million per day in product loss that is currently flared from commercial membrane systems, resulting in both savings for the customer and a reduced environmental footprint. Related opportunities in other gas and vapor separation markets could also be enabled by this research._x000D_
The intellectual merit of this project is to develop gas separation membranes from a novel class of polymers with record performance. To this end, this effort aims to scale polymer synthesis, form thin films, test developed membranes using complex gas mixtures, and develop an optimized techno-economic model for market applications. These objectives are of practical importance for manufacturing and commercialization, but they are likewise important for scientific and technical innovation in polymer science and thin-film formation. Moreover, testing these materials in thin film form under complex gas mixtures will provide data on stability under relevant conditions. The research on polymer scaleup and thin film formation is critical for refining technoeconomic assumptions for capital costs, and the testing of complex gas mixtures is critical for refining assumptions on process energy costs and cost savings from product recovery. Accomplishment of these objectives will enable new innovations related to the formation of membrane modules that can be tested and evaluated with industrial gas mixtures._x000D_
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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