SBIR Phase I: Functionalized multi-walled carbon nanotubes for making highly efficient water separation membranes for ultralow sulfur diesel fuels

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
NSF 08-548
Small Business Information
Seldon Laboratories, LLC
31 Depot Ave., Door 18, Windsor, VT, 05089
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator
 Vardhan Bajpai
 (802) 674-2444
Business Contact
 Vardhan Bajpai
Title: DPhil
Phone: (802) 674-2444
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a novel membrane based on functionalized multi-walled carbon nanotubes. This membrane will radically outperform conventional membranes used for water separation from ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD). Water present in ULSD forms highly stable emulsions which are very difficult to separate. There is a critical need for water separation from ULSD in diesel-vehicles because water drastically reduces the engines' durability and efficiency. Conventional membranes cannot destabilize these emulsions completely. Most importantly, these membranes perform differently over the range of ULSDs available. Surface chemistry of the fibers is critical for obtaining the optimal wetting behavior required for separation of such fuel-water systems. Multi-walled carbon nanotube surface chemistry will be used as a parameter for controlling the water-ULSD separation performance of the membrane. If successful, this would solve that long standing problem in the fuel industry and would also pave the way for subsequent products for water separation from liquids (e.g. biodiesels) which form highly stable emulsions with water. In the short term, this innovation would yield significant benefits for the ULSD vehicular industry by reducing the engines' maintenance and operational costs, while in the long term it would fulfill the challenging liquid-liquid separation needs of, among others, our chemical and pharmaceutical industries. On a broader scale, the potential commercial, societal, and scientific & technological benefits are numerous and profound. The commercial yields from this research and development involve setting a patent-protected standard for water separation from ULSD in a potential annual market of $3 billion in the US diesel-road-vehicular niche alone. Additional large ULSD markets are likely to arise in non-road and locomotive and marine sectors (mandated by 2014), and biofuels. Adaptations of this core liquid-liquid separation to related needs provide significant opportunities also. The societal benefits include cleaner fuel and air, longer injector/engine life, better combustion of ULSD, lower maintenance costs, new jobs, enabling use of high-sulfur fuel reserves, more efficient combustion of biofuels, products for export, and much more. Finally, Seldon's science team is building a deep understanding of MWCNT characteristics such as dispersion within its water filtration products, the fuel work potential here, and elsewhere. New functionalization and media fabrication strategies that Seldon will develop in this research project with this novel water-ULSD separation membrane and other efforts are all yielding a portfolio of expertise available to address broad issues, known and still to be identified. This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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