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SBIR Phase I:Carbon-Ceramic Composite Membranes for Olefin-Paraffin Separations

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1013827
Agency Tracking Number: 1013827
Amount: $149,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: BC
Solicitation Number: NSF 09-609
Solicitation Year: 2010
Award Year: 2010
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): N/A
Award End Date (Contract End Date): N/A
Small Business Information
United States
DUNS: 112716311
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Xiaotong Wei
 (650) 543-3378
Business Contact
 Xiaotong Wei
Title: PhD
Phone: (650) 543-3378
Research Institution

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project seeks to establish the feasibility of carbon-ceramic membranes for the highly difficult molecular separation of olefin/paraffin mixtures. Carbon molecular sieves are porous materials that possess small selective pores distributed in two to three relatively narrow size ranges that can provide the resulting membranes with high selectivity for olefin/paraffin analog separations. This project will develop a novel process to make new rigid carbon-ceramic structures that are chemically and thermally stable, and thereby, resistant to plasticization induced by absorption of hydrocarbons. This project is expected to lead to the development of carbon membranes with sufficient olefin permeance and olefin/paraffin selectivity to yield an efficient process to recover olefins that are currently flared in polyolefin plant vent gases. Moreover, this research is expected to increase the understanding of carbon-ceramic membranes and their potential for use in an array of chemically and thermally challenging gas separations that are not possible with conventional polymeric membranes.
The broader/commercial impact of this project will be the large economic potential associated with the successful commercial use of the new carbon membranes in molecular separations, considering the commercial value of the recovered olefins, and the large volumes of olefins and polyolefins consumed annually in the United States. If these inherently stable new carbon membranes are successfully developed, they could be used as an energy-efficient separation method in variety of large industrial applications including olefin/paraffin separations for monomer production at steam crackers and recovery of olefins from fluid catalytic cracker off-gases in refineries. With the appropriate membrane materials, membrane-based separations offer the advantage of substantially reduced energy consumption compared to other separation methods including absorption and distillation.

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

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