Advanced Membrane Technology for Helium Recover

Award Information
Department of Energy
Solitcitation Year:
Solicitation Number:
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Topic Code:
10 d
Small Business Information
Helios-nrg, Llc
12 Yardley Lane, East Amherst, NY, 14051-1683
Hubzone Owned:
Woman Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Principal Investigator
 Ravi Prasad
 (716) 289-3864
Business Contact
 Ravi Prasad
Title: Dr.
Phone: (716) 289-3864
Research Institution
 Oak Ridge National Laboratory
 1 Bethel Valley Road
P.O. Box 2001
Oak Ridge, TN, 37831-6044
 () -
 Federally funded R&D center (FFRDC)
This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase 1 project will lead to the development of a simple, cost effective technology which can recover helium from gas reservoirs containing helium concentrations too low to permit economic recovery at present. This will enable helium recovery from fields currently producing natural gas but considered uneconomical for the recovery of the contained helium and also permit many newly discovered sources of helium to be exploited. Helios-NRG is proposing the development of a novel, membrane based separation technology to recover helium from the above natural gas sources. As helium production from current sources continues to diminish, it becomes increasingly important to take advantage of all available helium supplies. In the US, a major fraction of the available helium is in marginal concentration reservoirs and is currently unrecovered. Globally it is believed that this percentage is even larger. Recovery of helium in this manner represents a major departure from current technology by making it economically attractive to produce more helium, primarily from domestic sources, thereby reviving US helium production. The research will be broken down into a series of tasks comprising a combination of property database development, membrane preparation and testing, computer performance modeling, and process analysis. It is expected that the results of the Phase 1 work will confirm technology feasibility leading to recommendations for the Phase 2 work and provide a rational basis for scaling to pilot size. In addition to its many industrial uses, helium plays a key role in high tech applications such as medical diagnostics as well as state-of-the-art particle physics research. Its unique properties make it an ideal and irreplaceable medium for conducting this work. Unless and until a large portion of this unrecovered helium can be brought to market, future advances in these important areas will suffer. The proposed technology can provide a path to increasing production by enabling cost effective recovery of this quickly depleting resource. Its flexibility to process a wide range of feed stream compositions opens up the prospect for adding this technology to existing processing facilities and enables helium production from non-producing sources worldwide. Helios-NRG proposes the development of a step change membrane technology which will enable the recovery of helium from vast, but marginal sources which are uneconomic today. This will revive declining US production, maintain US global leadership and ensure reliable supply of this valuable resource for decades to come. Helium is an irreplaceable resource available in diminishing quantity requiring ever more aggressive separation techniques to maintain supplies. This program proposes to develop a novel, energy efficient, separation technique to recover helium from vast natural gas reservoirs that contain helium concentrations too low for current economic recovery. In this manner, this program promotes the DOEs interest in promoting innovative technology and ensures future helium supply for key public uses such as optical fiber production, NASA space program, superconductors, MRI and other medical applications. Helios-NRG in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory plans to develop an economically attractive, energy efficient, membrane separation technology to exploit vast natural gas reservoirs containing low concentrations of helium.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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