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VaPRRS™ Technology

Effectively captures volatile organic compounds and air pollutants and recovers them as pure liquids.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign developed the Vapor Phase Removal and Recovery System (VaPRRSTM). It is a long-lasting filter that effectively removes dilute volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from gas streams and recovers them as pure liquids. The technology can be integrated into a variety of manufacturing facilities and air pollution control (APC) systems to make them more effective.

VaPRRS is a VOC/HAP recovery system that uses an activated carbon fiber cloth and electrothermal desorption (ED) to inexpensively and selectively remove vapors from gas streams. The system rapidly adsorbs and then efficiently regenerates the sorbent and allows for condensation of the sorbate gas all within one control volume. Experimental and numerical prototyping has successfully demonstrated the removal of 4-methyl-2-pentanone (MIBK), toluene, methyl propyl ketone (MPK), methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), and hexane from laboratory generated air steams.

More information about this technology is presented below.

For more information about UIUC technologies, please visit https://flintbox.com/public/group/779/

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Benefits

  • Lower maintenance costs: The adsorbent material offers an extended lifetime of operation with little to no degradation in performance. Consequently, this system substantially reduces the costs of maintaining the APC system.
  • Simpler and cheaper operation: This system has no moving parts except for the gas flow valves. VaPRRSTM also can provide a captured VOC as a liquid without the need for a steam generator, decanter, distillation tower, chiller, or other equipment.
  • Better filtration: This system removes a wide range of VOC/HAP concentrations, including very dilute concentrations (<1,000 ppmv) of contaminants, better than existing methods.
  • Improved VOC/HAP recovery: This system can easily recover valuable reagents that are lost or destroyed in other methods.
  • Scalability: This technology can be scaled to process any quantity of vapor exhaust (e.g., from dry cleaning operations to paint booths for aircraft).
  • Adaptable: The system can be customized to adsorb a wide variety of VOCs/HAPs, including ketones (e.g., MEK), aromatics (e.g., toluene), alkanes (e.g., hexane), halogens (e.g., methylene chloride), and many others.
  • Safer: This technology uses a microengineered sorbent that is ash free to minimize localized heating and chemical reactions with ash that are a concern with bed fires and granular activated carbon.

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Applications

Companies can license the VaPRRSTM technology for integration into existing manufacturing operations and APC systems for a wide variety of applications, including:

Sanding/finishing painted equipment

Painting and surface coating
This technology can capture and recover paint solvents such as toluene and 4-methyl-2-pentanone (MIBK) for reuse.

Printing press

Printing
Printers who use this technology can reuse their printing solvents, including hexane, ethylbenzene, and MEK during production.

Drycleaning room

Dry cleaners
Dry cleaning solvents such as perchloroethylene can be recycled on location with this technology.

Sampling from chemical processing vat.

Chemical processing
The technology can be used to perform selective gas separation of organic vapors.

Indoor air quality control systems
This technology removes trace concentrations of vapors to improve indoor air quality.

Manufacturing
This technology can be used to recover VOCs/HAPs generated during the manufacturing of various products, including:

  • Aircraft
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Semiconductors
  • Heavy equipment
  • Millwork, veneer, and plywood
  • Paint, ink, varnish, and lacquer
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Technology Details

This technology was initially developed to broadcast multiple audio streams through the NASA MCC VoIP system. It is comprised of hardware and software that affect simultaneous, nearly real-time transmission of as many as 21 separate audio streams into multicast streams to authorized listeners via the MCC Intranet and/or the Internet. The technology has provided significant benefits to NASA by enhancing situational awareness among flight-support personnel and management who are located outside of the Mission Control Center (MCC), and it has excellent potential to provide similar benefits in commercial applications.


How it works

This technology uses activated-carbon fiber cloth (ACFC) as an alternative adsorbent to traditional granular activated carbon (GAC) to remove and recover organic vapors from gas streams. The ACFC is microporous, has up to 250% of the adsorption capacity of GAC, has faster mass and heat transfer properties than GAC, and is ash free to inhibit chemical reactions between the ACFC and the adsorbed vapors.

Electrothermal desorption can be used to rapidly regenerate the ACFC with lower energy requirements than steam- or heated nitrogen–based regeneration. ED also eliminates the need for an adsorbent drying step and the recovered solvent/water separation processes usually required with conventional steam regeneration technology.

As shown in Figure 1, this technology consists of two adsorption/desorption units that enclose hollow elements containing ACFC and provide gas ports at either end. The compounds are adsorbed onto ACFC cartridges (Figure 2) that are electrothermally regenerated at a very rapid rate, causing the adsorbate to condense within the adsorption vessel itself and produce two-phase flow of the effluent during regeneration. The ACFC elements provide controlled electrical resistance, allowing for direct electrothermal heating and rapid regeneration of the ACFC and recovery of the VOCs/HAPs. Rapid ED with in-vessel condensation results in significant reductions in system complexity, cycle times, and nitrogen consumption. This new system also operates without the use of steam, heated inert gas, vacuum, or a refrigeration system. The pilot-scale system regenerates the ACFC within 40 minutes.

Figure 1: Overall Schematic of the ACFC Adsorption–Rapid Electrothermal Desorption System

Figure 2: ACFC Adsorber

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Performance in the lab

Continuous VOC/HAP capture and recovery tests were performed with the bench-scale unit (125 mm diameter) while removing an array of solvents at a total gas flow rate ranging from 5–85 sLpm. The adsorption vessel contained 128 grams of ACFC. Single-component organic vapor tests were performed with MIBK; toluene; n-hexane, 2-pentanone (MPK); MEK; and n-hexane with controlled concentrations ranging from 100 to 10,000 ppmv in air. Overall removal efficiencies of greater than 99% were measured during the experiments.

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Patents

  • U.S. Patent #6,364,936 (link opens new browser window) : Selective sorption and desorption of gases with electrically heated activated carbon fiber cloth element (issued April 2, 2002)
  • WIPO Application #WO 01/87461 A1: Selective sorption and desorption of gases with electrically heated activated carbon fiber cloth element (filed April 24, 2001)

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Publications


Papers

  • "Capture and Recovery of Organic Compounds Using Adsorption and Electrothermal Regeneration," by P.D. Sullivan, M.J. Rood, K.D. Dombrowski, and K.J. James. Submitted in 2002 to Journal of Environmental Engineering.
  • "Equilibrium Adsorption of Organic Vapors on Phenol-, Tire- and Coal- Derived Activated Carbons," by D. Ramirez, P.D. Sullivan, M.J. Rood, and K.J. James. Submitted in 2002 to Journal of Environmental Engineering.
  • "Solvent Recovery and Energy Efficiency During Electric Regeneration of an ACF Adsorber," by K.D. Dombrowski, C.M.B. Lehmann, P.D. Sullivan, D. Ramirez, M.J. Rood, and K.J. James. Submitted in 2002 to Journal of Environmental Engineering.
  • "Mercury Adsorption Properties of Sulfur Impregnated Adsorbents," by H.-C. Hsi, M.J. Rood, M. Rostam-Abadi, S. Chen, and R. Chang (2002). Published in Journal of Environmental Engineering, 128(11):1080-1089
  • "Effects of Sulfur Impregnation Temperature on the Properties and Mercury Adsorption Capacities of Activated Carbon Fibers (ACFs)," by H.-C. Hsi, M. Rostam-Abadi, M.J. Rood, S. Chen, and R. Chang (2001). Published in Environmental Science & Technology, 35(13):2785-2791.
  • "Development of an Activated Carbon Fiber Cloth Adsorption/Regeneration System to Recover and Reuse Toxic Volatile Organic Compounds," by Mehrdad Lordgooei, Kelly R. Carmichael, Mark J. Rood, and Susan Larson. Final Report for Project HWR 94115. Prepared for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, December 1, 1998. Available via the North Carolina Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance.
  • "Adsorption and Electrothermal Desorption of Hazardous Organic Vapors," Sullivan, P.D., Rood, M.J., Hay, K.J., and Qi, S (2001). Published in Journal of Environmental Engineering, 127(3): 217-223.
  • "Modeling Effective Diffusivity of Volatile Organic Compounds in Activated Carbon Fiber," Lordgooei, M., M. J. Rood, M. Rostam-Abadi (2001). Published in Environmental Science & Technology, 35: 613-619.
  • "Carbon Fiber Adsorption Using Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship," Qi, S., Hay, K.J., Rood, M.J., Cal, M.P. (2000). Published in Journal of Environmental Engineering, 126(9): 865-868.
  • "Equilibrium and Heat of Adsorption for Water Vapor and Activated Carbon," Qi, S., Hay, K.J., Rood, M.J. and Cal, M. (2000). Published in Journal of Environmental Engineering, 126(3): 267-271.
  • "Preparation and Evaluation of Coal-Derived Activated Carbons for Removal of Mercury Vapor from Simulated Flue Gases," Hsi, H-C., Chen, S., Rostam-Abadi, M., Rood, M.J., Richardson, C.F., Carey, T. R., Chang, R., (1998). Published in Energy & Fuels, 12(6): 1061-1070.
  • "Isotherm Equation for Water Vapor Adsorption onto Microporous Activated Carbon," Qi, S., Hay, K.J., Rood, M.J. (1998). Published in Journal of Environmental Engineering, 124(11): 1130-1134.
  • "Sorption and Mass Transfer of Toxic Chemical Vapors in Activated Carbon Fiber Cloth Fixed Bed Adsorbers," Lordgooei, M., Sagen, J., Rood, M.J., Rostam-Abadi, M., (1998). Published in Energy & Fuels, 12(6): 1079-1088.
  • "Gas Phase Adsorption of VOCs and Water Vapor on Activated Carbon Cloth," Cal, M.P., Rood, M.J., and Larson, S.M. (1997). Published in Energy & Fuels,11: 311-315.
  • "Activated Carbon Cloth Adsorption Cryogenic System to Recover Toxic Volatile Organic Compounds," Lordgooei, M., Carmichael, K.R., Kelly, T.W., Rood, M.J., and Larson, S.M. (1996). Published in Gas Separation and Purification, 10(2): 123-130.
  • "Removal of VOCs from Humidified Gas Streams Using Activated Carbon Cloth," Cal, M.P., Rood, M.J., and Larson, S.M. (1995). Published in Gas Separation and Purification, 10(2): 117-121.
  • "Chemically Treated Activated Carbon Cloths (ACCs) for Removal of Volatile Organic Carbons from Gas Streams: Evidence for Enhance Physical Adsorption," Dimotakis, E., Cal, M.P., Economy, J., Rood, M.J., and Larson, S. (1995). Published in Environmental Science and Technology, 29(7): 1876-1880.
  • "Water Vapor Adsorption on Chemically Treated Activated Carbon Cloths," Dimotakis, E., Cal, M.P., Economy, J., Rood, M. and Larson, S. (1995). Published in Chemistry of Materials, 7(12): 2269-2272.
  • "Experimental and Modeled Results Describing the Adsorption of Acetone and Benzene onto Activated Carbon Fibers: Comparison of Experimental and Modeled Isotherms," Cal, M.P., Larson, S.M., and Rood, M.J. (1994). Published in Environmental Progress, 13(1): 26-30.
  • "Adsorption Characteristics of Trace Volatile Organic Compounds in Gas Streams onto Activated Carbon Fibers," Foster, K.L., Fuerman, R.G., Economy J., Larson, S.M., and Rood, M.J. (1992). Published in Chemistry of Materials, 4(5): 1068-1073.

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Press coverage

  • "Vapor Recovery System to Capture and Recycle Air Pollutants," press release posted on the University News Bureau site and picked up by many online publications
  • "Filter Designed to Help Environment," article published October 12, 2000, at The Daily Illini Online

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Demonstration

video
Video: Electrothermal Regeneration of Activated Carbon Fiber Cloth (ACFC) (3 Mb)

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Presentations

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Commercial Opportunity

The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is offering its VOC recovery system for license by qualified companies. This technology is protected by a U.S. patent, and applications have been submitted for foreign patents. The technology is co-owned by the University and the U.S. Army’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory.

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For More Information

For more information about UIUC technologies, please visit https://flintbox.com/public/group/779/

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
http://www.otm.uiuc.edu

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This technology is owned by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
TF00018 (UI01-025)