IRmadillo logo white

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.

IRmadillo – Better Process Monitoring & Control

Keit offers the innovative IRmadillo FTIR spectrometer, an industrial process analyser that is inherently tough — capable of real-time chemical concentration monitoring during a bio-based production process.

Sugars into Ethanol

Below is an example of the of the Keit IRmadillo monitoring an ethanolic fermentation process in real time over 20 hours. You can clearly see the change in concentrations of glucose, glycerol, acetic acid and ethanol over production time.  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).

Keit's IRmadillo 20-hr fermentation monitoring
Keit’s IRmadillo monitoring a sucrose fermentation over a 20-hour period.

How does this help?

By monitoring the process in real time, the IRmadillo enables production managers to maintain fine control of their feedstock concentration. 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 such things as thermal runaway.

Additionally, this type of in situ analyser 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 that might have otherwise been lost.

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.

Keit IRmadillo sugar spectrum
Spectra of seven sugar solutions acquired on an IRmadillo with a 120 s sampling time between 900 and 2000 cm-1. The structures of the sugars are shown to the right.

How does the IRmadillo compare to NIR, Raman, and Conventional FTIR?

The use of process analytical technology (PAT) for bioethanol production is an exciting and potentially very powerful development. Many spectroscopic techniques rely on the vibrational spectroscopies: Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) which is mid-infrared, Raman spectroscopy and near infrared (NIR). Different techniques have their own strengths and weaknesses but are seldom compared to established which really is the best techniques for a given application.

But how to they compare to the IRmadillo?  We’ve tested each on a bioethanol fermentation process and have written up the results. Read the differences and advantages with the IRmadillo FTIR instrument.

Interested in Finding out More?

Read more in the biofuels industry, or monitoring industrial fermentations with the IRmadillo and download our bioethanol brochure in the Bioethanol Library.

Contact us

Send us a message and find out how the IRmaidllo helps monitor bioethanol production processes.

Keit IRmadillo logo