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Multi-Scale Fouling Characterization of Fermented/Hydrolyzed Sweet Sorghum

2013 DOT-RITA Center Award


Principal Investigators and affiliations:

PI:  Dr. Rob Whitely (Chemical Engineering, Oklahoma State University)

Funded: $150,000

Start Date: 1/1/2013

End Date: 12/31/2015


Expected Outcomes

The goal of this project is to quantify the fouling characteristics of fermented or hydrolyzed sweet sorghum on multiple length-scales in a bioethanol recovery process.  The research plan calls for testing in a lab-scale flow loop and in the OSU farm-scale Alcohol Separation Unit located at the Bioenergy Laboratory.


Results of the work will be used to develop a fundamental fouling model and to develop optimal maintenance and equipment cleaning practices.  The work will be performed in collaboration with Sulzer Chemtech, USA (separations technology provider for the Alcohol Separation Unit).  This work will provide answers to a critical question (how to minimize/handle equipment fouling) regarding the ability of farmers to operate and maintain on-site alcohol separation processes on a commercial scale.  Completion of this project combined with cost data from the recently constructed farm-scale Alcohol Separation Unit will allow economists to establish the economic viability of de-centralized ethanol production from sweet sorghum with much greater accuracy.

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