Process Development: Bench to Commercialization

Process development -leading a process from bench-scale optimization and characterization through scale-up to piloting and commercialization requires a variety of knowledge and skills for the process development engineer and scientist.  Beyond core competencies (e.g. chemistry, thermodynamics, mass and energy balances, etc.) of those that work in process development teams, there are additional skills that help…

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Butanol – A Versatile Renewable

Is butanol a versatile renewable? Despite the common myth, biomass upgrading is a challenging science. Not only do the practitioners have to break down the complex biomass mixtures efficiently, but they must also contend with numerous other equally (and often times more) important considerations such as low oil prices (per barrel), process safety, waste streams,…

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Isobutanol: A New Product from Revamped Ethanol Plants

Isobutanol: A New Product from Revamped Ethanol Plants? (The following article was written in 2016.  Since the publication date BP and DuPont joint venture, Butamax, has started to produce Isobutanol from the Nesika Energy, LLC  ethanol plant in Kansas.  At 500,000 gallons per year the plant adds to the renewable butanol production from Gevo (rated…

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What to do About Algae?

(Note:  This is was written in 2016 and may contain information that is now out of date). In thinking about algae, I am reminded of my visit some years ago to a platinum mine in South Africa. About a mile underground at the end of the maze of tunnels at the ‘minefront’ they excavate about…

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Torrefied Biomass

Torrefied biomass is available, efficient, CO2 neutral and economic, and likely the best solid biomass on the market.  Torrefaction is a thermal pre-treatment technology used to upgrade lignocellulosic biomass to higher quality and more attractive biofuel. In the torrefaction process, biomass is heated to 250-350°C in a low oxygen atmosphere, so that all moisture is…

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Opportunities to Transition Ethanol Facilities to Biochemical Refineries

By: Daniel A. Lane and Joel A. Stone, Lee Enterprises Consulting Opportunities to Transition Ethanol Facilities to Biochemical Refineries? The US commercial petroleum industry started with the drilling by retired railroad conductor Edwin Drake of a well near Titusville, PA in 1859.  Drake’s well sparked an oil boom and over the next couple of years,…

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Biomass Pyrolysis Comes of Age

By Dr. Lorenz Bauer, Lee Enterprises Consulting After many years of development biomass pyrolysis is finally maturing as a commercial technology.  Pyrolysis is not incineration.  The goal is to use heat in the absence of oxygen to convert the biomass to a more useful form while preserving as much of the carbon as possible.  The water…

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Process Integration in Industrial Biotechnology / Synthetic Biology

What does an expert in process integration in the field of industrial biotechnology or synthetic biology do?  First, let’s define terms.  These two terms are frequently interchanged, but are not exactly synonymous; synthetic biology should be considered one of the tools used to build a commercially useful process in the field of industrial biotechnology.  The…

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