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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Photo of Pilot Plant

Mr. Neil Goldberg
SUPER Manager
Voice:  215-233-6590
Fax:  215-233-6406


Provide research support in the commercialization of new processes and products  developed in ARS's laboratories through process scale up and process economic research.

The Engineering Scale-Up, Process and Economics Research (SUPER) Support Group Unit has the Agency's only process engineering unit with the facilities and expertise to do pilot plant research involving basic theoretical investigations, process development, scale-up, simulation and economic feasibility studies. Processes are developed at the bench and pilot scale to make the technology directly transferable to a broad range of end-users and bridging the gap between laboratory and industry. The unit provides research support to  Chemists, Microbiologists,  Food Technologists, Plant Physiologists, and Engineering Research Programs at ARS.


In priority order, the SUPER group applies its unique equipment, facilities, capabilities, and personnel to support the research mission of:

  • ERRC Research Projects in ARS National Programs 306 and 307 (Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products; Bioenergy and Energy Alternatives)

  • Other ARS Research Programs in NP 306 and 307

  • University and Private Industry Research Partners

  • Non-Profit Institution and Trade Association Research Partners

Note:  The SUPER group is not a "fee for service" contract organization.  Only research activities which do not compete with commercial laboratories and pilot plants are pursued. 

Click for a SUPER group support form.


ERRC has one of the most unique and completely equipped food, chemical, dairy, biochemical, and industrial pilot plants in the Federal and Non-commercial sectors. Approximately 19,000 square feet of specialized space is dedicated to these facilities. A complete on-line catalog of equipment, available for use in our Pilot Plant, can be seen here.

Equipment categories include:

  • Numerous size reduction and sample mixing devices

  • Batch and continuous chemical reactors 1 to 1000 liters

  • Fermentors, sizes 1 to 300 liters

  • Complete research pilot plant for dry-grind ethanol process development

  • Various evaporators

  • Twin screw extruders (see Dairy Products and Processes RU)

  • Dryers:  shelf-, freeze-, convection- and belt-types

  • Distillation equipment

  • Pervaporation, reverse osmosis, micro- and ultra-filtration membrane systems

  • High-pressure gas extraction and fractionation systems

Unique capabilities:

  • Complete mechanical design facilities, software and hardware

  • Complete fabrication facilities with ability to fabricate new research equipment and new process unit operations

  • Process simulation capability using Aspen+ and SuperPro Design software

  • Cost estimation for known and experimental unit operations, processes and products

Unique personnel:

  • Mechanical engineers

  • Chemical engineers

  • Equipment operators

  • Chemical engineering support scientists and technicians

  • Cost engineers

  • Fabricators

  • Mechanics

Examples of Research Support Provided:

  • Bioproduct and commodity product value estimation

  • Process and product cost estimation and analysis

  • Process simulation using Aspen+ and SuperPro Designer software

  • Simple scale-up of bench-scale reactions

  • Preparation of large quantities of research products for testing purposes

  • Extractions

  • Filtrations

  • Fermentations

  • Evaporation and drying of large samples

  • Simple design and fabrication of research equipment

  • Process design and development

  • Biofuels process development

  • Evaluation of alternative wet and dry-grind ethanol processes through experimentation, simulation, and comparison to base case processes

Last Modified: 8/12/2016
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