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Ethanol production in a membrane bioreactor: pilot-scale trials in a corn wet mill

, : Ethanol production in a membrane bioreactor: pilot-scale trials in a corn wet mill. Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology Part A, Enzyme Engineering and Biotechnology 91/93: 283-296

Pilot plant trials were conducted in a corn wet mill with a 7000-L membrane recycle bioreactor (MRB) that integrated ceramic microfiltration membranes in a semi-closed loop configuration with a stirred-tank reactor. Residence times of 7.5-10 h with ethanol outputs of 10-11.5% (v/v) were obtained when the cell concentration was 60-100 g/L dry wt of yeast, equivalent to about 10(9)-10(10) cells/mL. The performance of the membrane was dependent on the startup mode and pressure management techniques. A steady flux of 70 L/(m2(.)h) could be maintained for several days before cleaning was necessary. The benefits of the MRB include better productivity; a clear product stream containing no particulates or yeast cells, which should improve subsequent stripping and distillation operations; and substantially reduced stillage handling. The capital cost of the MRB is $21-$34/(m3(.)yr) ($0.08-$0.13/[gal(.)yr]) of ethanol capacity. Operating cost, including depreciation, energy, membrane replacement, maintenance, labor, and cleaning, is $4.5-9/m3 ($0.017-$0.034/gal) of ethanol.


DOI: 10.1385/ABAB:91-93:1-9:283

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