Advanced Membrane Technology for Helium Recovery

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-SC0005004
Agency Tracking Number: 211694
Amount: $999,503.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Awards Year: 2014
Solicitation Year: 2014
Solicitation Topic Code: 10d
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0001019
Small Business Information
12 Yardley Lane, East Amherst, NY, 14051-1683
DUNS: 829577142
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Ravi Prasad
 (716) 289-3864
Business Contact
 Ravi Prasad
Phone: (716) 289-3864
Research Institution
 1 Bethel Valley Road
Oak Ridge, TN, 94025-
 () -
 Federally funded R&D center (FFRDC)
US production of Helium, a critical and irreplaceable resource that is currently produced from a few helium-rich natural gas reservoirs, is in rapid decline as these currently viable rich reserves are being depleted. The new technology being developed herein is required to recover helium from vast natural gas reservoirs containing concentrations too low for current economic recovery. This program thus promotes the Department of Energy interest in promoting innovative technology and ensures future helium supply for key public uses such as optical fiber production, the US space program, superconductors, MRI and other medical applications. Helios-NRG in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and MTR is developing an economically attractive, energy efficient, hybrid membrane separation technology to exploit vast natural gas reservoirs containing low concentrations of helium. Phase II developed a hybrid membrane technology using a cryogenic front end which can be used to recover He from the low purity sources. Preferred membranes were developed modules made, advanced process cycles developed, a lab pilot unit built and key membrane performance metrics validated. Economic analysis was carried out and showed potential to produce helium from marginal sources at attractive prices in locations where a cryogenic plant can be built. Phase IIB is intended to advance the technology to enable He production without a cryogenic front end which will enable stand alone operation and near universal application of the technology thus greatly increasing market size and value creation. It includes step change improvements in membrane performance, area packing density, advanced process development and the design, fabrication and testing in a pilot unit on raw feed gas to validate the technology. It will lay the foundation for advancing the technology to demonstration stage. Commercial Applications and OtherBenefits: Commercial application of this technology will be for helium production from marginal gas fields containing low helium concentrations, below todays economic threshold. It will permit major new sources to be exploited, revive US production and help conserve this valuable resource. It will also enable recycle/recovery of helium in many current applications.

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

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