A membrane-based gas separation process for treating gas streams that contain methane in low concentrations. The invention involves flowing the stream to be treated across the feed side of a membrane and flowing a sweep gas stream, usually air, across the permeate side. Carbon dioxide permeates the membrane preferentially and is picked up in the sweep air stream on the permeate side; oxygen permeates in the other direction and is picked up in the methane-containing stream. The resulting residue stream is enriched in methane as well as oxygen and has an EMC value enabling it to be either flared or combusted by mixing with ordinary air.
This invention was made in part with Government support under award numbers DE-FG02-06ER84609 and DE-FG02-07ER84819, awarded by the United States Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in this invention.