Optimizing and Scaling
The wide range of biomass—whether it is a single feedstock or mixed feedstock—introduces complexities in treating and handling the starting material and resultant products in a process scenario. What works at bench scale may not produce the same results at demonstration and pilot scales.
At ABPDU, our ultimate goal is to optimize processes to avoid problems during scale-up. During downstream polymerization processes, we focus on the specific structures and properties for potential end-user applications. This approach not only helps with quality control, but also allows us to develop the most economical processes.
High Solids Loading
A key feature of biomass is that it is a solid, unlike crude oil. Solids handling is one of the key risk drivers for scale up. Higher solids loading could lead to higher productivity in downstream fermentation processes. At high solids, however, biomass is typically fibrous and hygroscopic and requires special mixing and handling techniques at large-scale.
Performing chemistry on solids is more challenging from a cost and feasibility perspective. At ABPDU, we believe it is critical to obtain a fundamental understanding of the biomass flow properties under various unit operations to evaluate the requirements of mixing and handling techniques for high solid loadings.
Robust Process Design
Rheology of biomass can significantly influence the progress of chemical and biological conversion of biomass to monomeric sugars.
At ABPDU, we utilize extensive rheology to design processes that scale well. The information we obtain helps us balance process economics and quality.
- Is a fed batch process better than a batch process?
- How small a particle size is optimum?
- Can you reduce capital expenditure by using a smaller reactor?
- What type of pump can we use and what would be its specification?
Materials Characterization & Solids Handling Options
Understanding Solids to Liquids Behavior
Optimizing Enzyme Activity at High Solids Loading
Related Papers, Articles, and Presentations
This paper presents two case studies on the scale-up and process integration of municipal solid waste conversion technology. In a partnership with Idaho National Labs, we successfully demonstrated 200-fold scale up of MSW blends IL acidolysis. We also developed an integrated process for ionic liquid based deconstruction technologies for MSW blends conversion. The scale up attempt will leverage the opportunity towards a cost-effective MSW blends conversion technology.
Under a DOE Work-For-Others agreement with FATER, ABPDU has been developing and validating an integrated waste-to-energy process. Key outcomes indicate that post-consumer absorbent hygiene products (AHPs) can be readily and economically converted — without using harsh or expensive pretreatment routes — to sugars and fuel intermediates.
In a collaborative effort with INL, SNL, and JBEI, predictive modeling was used to evaluate and optimize traditional pretreatment methods for biomass mixture compositions to maximize sugar yield and minimize furfural production. The collaboration encompassed compositional analysis of feedstocks, solids loading during pretreatment for mixed feedstock, enzymatic hydrolysis on unwashed solids, and sugar and furfural analysis. Predictive modeling could effectively identify the pretreatment catalyst and treatment conditions for an “optimal” biomass mixture and the optimal biomass mixture for a particular pretreatment system.
A collaboration between ABPDU, INL, and SNL as to whether blends of municipal solid waste (MSW) and corn stover (CS) could meet cost and quality targets yielded valuable results. The team successfully developed an integrated process for ionic liquid (IL) based deconstruction technologies. They also demonstrated a 200-fold scale up MSW/CS blends IL acidolysis. The scale up attempt and process integration will leverage the opportunity towards a cost-effective sugar/lignin production technology.
ABPDU has been developing and validating an integrated waste-to-energy process under a DOE work-for-others (WFO) agreement with FATER, an Italian JV between Procter & Gamble and the Angelini Industrial Group.
Key outcomes indicate that post-consumer absorbent hygiene products (AHP) can be readily and economically converted — without using harsh or expensive pretreatment routes — to fermentable sugar intermediates as well as biofuel and bio-based chemical products.