Energy-efficient butanol fermentation separation method

Ref No: Hod-3387-16

Butanol is commercially interesting as a direct gasoline replacement and substitute because it overcomes many of the limitations of the current gasoline substitutes, such as ethanol, due to its immiscibility with water and similar energy density to gasoline. Like ethanol, there is much commercial interest in producing butanol from fermentation of biomass, either directly or via crude syngas production. However, the recovery of butanol from the fermentation broth using classical techniques such as distillation is very energy intensive.

Researchers in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology have devised a method of separating butanol from fermentation broths that provides an energy reduction of over 90% compared to conventional distillation technologies. Based on the research to date, it looks like this energy-efficient method has the potential to be implemented as part of the retrofitting process to modify existing ethanol fermentation plants for butanol production.

The technology is protected by a UK priority patent application and we’re now looking for partners to help us develop the technology. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss further.

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