Process Intensification by Integrated Reaction and Distillation for Synthesis of Bio-Renewable Organic Acid Esters

Award Information
Department of Energy
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
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Small Business Information
E3tec Service, Llc
11864 Tall Timber Drive, Clarksville, MD, 21029-1203
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Chandrakant Panchal
(410) 534-0880
Business Contact:
Chandrakant Panchal
(410) 534-0880
Research Institution:

The global market for bio-based chemicals is at a critical stage of development, with focus on new bio-based routes to chemicals and building the type of commercial-scale plants that will enable the market to truly compete with petroleum derived chemicals. The 2011 Frost & amp; Sullivan report identifies six market challenges associated with bio-based chemicals production: 1) price volatility; 2) the continuing dominance of petroleum-based fuel as the primary product; 3) overcoming the end users lack of knowledge about bio-based chemicals; 4) competing against mature petrochemical technologies; 5) competing for attention with other sustainability factors; and 6) attracting equity investment in bio-based industry development. Along with market and financial issues, these challenges clearly point to the need for further development of processing strategies for bio-based chemicals and fuels in order to foster broad commercialization. Organic acid esters, produced from bio-based organic acids and alcohols, are truly bio-renewable, green chemicals that are promising replacements for halogenated and other petroleum-based solvents, lubricants, and plasticizers. This project will develop and demonstrate advanced reactive distillation concepts for esterification that reduce energy consumption and lower capital equipment costs. The governing objectives of the proposed Phase II research are: a) to develop experimentally validated design methodology for scaling the test data from MSUs pilot-plant to commercial unit; b) to demonstrate performance of integrated HIRD with side reactors and PerVap for esterification of multi-functional organic acids; c) to establish the energy and economic merits of HIRD with side reactors and PerVap membrane for manufacturing ester-based plasticizers; and d) to develop a roadmap for commercialization of HIRD with side reactors for synthesis of bio-based esters. The Phase II work plan will advance the technology from TRL-4 to TRL-5, or perhaps to TRL-6, with focus on licensing the technology to industrial partner(s). In terms of the DOE BioEnergys Stage-Gate process, Phase II will advance the technology from Stage-2 to Stage-3. The major tasks consists of a) development of design methodology of heat integrated reactive distillation with side reactors and PerVap membranes; b) preliminary design of a pre-commercial plant; c) pilot- plant tests; d) techno-economic analysis of manufacturing bio-based esters to replace phthalate plasticizers; and e) developing a commercialization roadmap, including holding an industry workshop. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The major benefits that will arise from this project are: a) enhanced U.S. competitiveness in manufacturing of bio-based plasticizers and solvents; and b) process intensification and energy efficiency for broad-based manufacturing of bio-based chemicals in the modern biorefinery.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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