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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Membrane Separations for Microbial and Antibiotic Reduction and Mitigation of Heat Transfer Fouling During Fuel Ethanol Production

Location: Sustainable Biofuels and Co-Products

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
To identify membranes that can reduce the microbial activity and antibiotic residues in the liquid processing streams from fuel ethanol processing facilities; Study the heat transfer fouling characteristics of the processing streams after membrane treatment; Evaluate the processing and economic effects of membrane incorporation by modification of ERRC’s ethanol processing model.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Several types of membranes will be used to filter process streams such as thin stillage obtained from commercial fuel ethanol production facilities. Permeate and retentate streams from the filtrations will be characterized for microbial activity and antibiotic residuals. This will be done using a non-hazardous challenge organism and commercially used antibiotics. Permeate and retentate will be evaluated for heat transfer fouling tendencies. Modification of ERRC’s existing fuel ethanol processing model. Membrane processing steps will be added using the data generated. Upon completion of the work, knowledge gained from this research can be expected to lead to development of process strategies that will serve to avoid or reduce microbial contamination, remove antibiotics from coproducts, and mitigate evaporator fouling. With the new knowledge gained, processors potentially will have opportunity to separate microbial and antibiotic components prior to evaporator operation that, in turn, would allow opportunities to significantly improve process efficiency.


3.Progress Report

Experimentation using membrane processing and thin stillage has started. Studies evaluating flux and solids contents of permeate and retentate streams have begun. Fouling characteristics of the streams will be examined in the near future. Progress monitoring for this project has been conducted using email and phone conversations.


Last Modified: 12/21/2014
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