Bionomer Pilot Plant

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Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Senior Design Reports (CBE)
University of Pennsylvania Year 2011

BIONOMER PILOT PLANT
Sifat A. Ahmad
University of Pennsylvania

Edward Eckels
University of Pennsylvania

Ben Galloway
University of Pennsylvania

Prosper Ndoro
University of Pennsylvania

This paper is posted at ScholarlyCommons. http://repository.upenn.edu/cbe sdr/30

April 13, 2011 Dr. John Vohs Professor Leonard K. Fabiano University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Department of Chemical Engineering Dear Professor Fabiano and Dr. Vohs, For our senior design project, we were tasked with developing a pilot plant capable of producing 30 M kg/year of methyl ethyl ketone and methacrylic acid as was proposed by Mr. Stephen Tieri of DuPont. These products are to be used in the synthesis of polymers and as solvents in many processes, so they must meet the rigorous standard of 99.5 wt% purity. The problem also says that these products will be made using novel microorganisms created Genomatica Inc. which in turn will be fed using cane sugar derivatives from a sugar mill in Brazil. Based on the patents submitted by Genomatica, E.coli was chosen to produce the two products during two separate batch fermentation processes. We were also asked to examine the various technologies available to separate methyl ethyl ketone and methacrylic acid from the fermentation broth solution. Our report discusses the viability of all of the possibilities we considered and gives a detailed summary on the process we found most promising. For MEK separation, we chose a pervaportion technique using a newly developed membrane by Pervatech, while MAA could be separated by combining liquid-liquid extraction and distillation. The pilot plant is not expected to produce a profit, but it will be necessary to accurately estimate the cost, so that the company can know how much to invest in the plant. The total investment required for materials, utilities and personnel was estimated to be $5 million. Further discussion and analyses of these topics are contained in the following report.

Sifat Ahmad

Edward Eckels

Benjamin Galloway

Prosper Ndoro

Ahmad, Eckels, Galloway, Ndoro

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Ahmad, Eckels, Galloway, Ndoro

BIOMONOMER PILOT PLANT
CONVERSION OF MOLASSES TO METHYL ETHYL KETONE AND METHACRYLIC ACID

Authors: Sifat A. Ahmad Edward Eckels Ben Galloway Prosper Ndoro Industrial Consultant: Mr. Steven M. Tieri Faculty Advisor: Professor John Vohs April 5, 2011 Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering University of Pennsylvania

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Ahmad, Eckels, Galloway, Ndoro

ABSTRACT The purpose of this project is to develop a pilot-scale process for the bacterial production of methacrylic acid (MAA) and methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) from biomass feedstocks and the subsequent purification steps. The pilot plant will also be located on site at a sugar cane refinery in Brazil where the feedstock should be inexpensive and readily available. Although these sugar cane refineries only operate for 9 months each year, molasses can be stored so that the pilot plant runs year-round. To obtain useful information about the feasibility and scalability of the process, 30 M kg/yr of each product will be produced. The products will be tested for purity and samples will be sent out to consumers to demonstrate the quality of the product. The MAA and MEK must be of the same purity generated by current commercial processes. The pilot plant will be designed in three major parts. The first part consists of the bacterial fermentors that are used to produce and scale up MAA and MEK production. Relatively little is currently known about the efficiency of production of MAA and MEK by E. coli and this part of the plant will provide critical data about conditions required for the bacteria as well as production rates. The second part of the plant consists of the MAA purification process. Many options will be...
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