Bioethanol Process Monitoring
Bioethanol production is on the rise. Ethanol producers are now faced with a greater need to properly monitor and control their production processes for effective resource management and ultimately increased cost savings. To date, conventional analytical techniques have significant limits in gaining real-time insight whether from low sensitivity, high cost or fragile fibre probes and moving parts.
Better Process Monitoring & Control
Keit offers the innovative IRmadillo™ FTIR spectrometer – an industrial instrument that is inherently rugged. As a solid-state mid-infrared instrument, it is capable of monitoring the concentrations of a wide range of species simultaneously during a bio-based production process in real time.
Sugars into Ethanol
Below is an example of the of the Keit IRmadillo monitoring an ethanolic fermentation process in real time. The left-hand axis shows the concentration of glucose, fructose, sucrose and ethanol; while the right-hand axis shows the concentration of acetic and lactic acids. Readings were taken every two minutes. It’s important to mention that this measuring technique allows for the simultaneous monitoring of different species over different concentration ranges (i.e., sugars and ethanol 0 – 35 % wt, acids < 1000 ppm).
How does this help?
By monitoring the process in real time, the IRmadillo instrument enables production managers to maintain fine control of their feedstock concentration. For example, specifying levels of feedstock sugars or limiting nitrogen levels, allows the process to run optimally within predefined conditions. Processes can be run safely at faster rates as real-time feedback can help prevent undesirable biochemical pathways, for example thermal runaway.
Additionally, this type of in situ sensor allows the detection of key failure markers such as the development of lactic acid (characteristic of lactic acid bacterial contamination) much earlier than other conventional techniques such as HPLC. This enables bioethanol producers to immediately correct problems and potentially save batches rather than lose them.
Power of Mid-infrared – Sugar Identification
The IRmadillo harnesses the power of the mid-infrared spectral region (MIR). The advantage for bioethanol production is the ability to identify specific sugars at wavenumbers that near-infrared (NIR) instruments fail to reach.