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Ethanol

Ethanol, which is also known as ethyl alcohol, is a clear, colorless, flammable, oxygenated hydrocarbon with a chemical formula C2H5OH. Currently, there are two commercialized ethanol production technology deployed in businesses. The first one is based on sugar base feedstock, and the second is based on starch base feed stock. For the sugar base feed stock, ethanol can be produced by microbial conversion through fermentation. The fermentation process relies on yeasts that convert sugar to the ethanol. Thus, those agriculture crops which are sugar base feedstocks such as sugarcane, sugar beet, molasses, etc. can be used for the ethanol production. Another type of feedstocks, which can be used for the ethanol production, is starch base materials. Starch consists of long chain of glucose molecules can also be converted to fermentable sugar by a method called “the hydrolysis technique”.

Industrial Grade
Industrial ethanol or hydrous ethanol contains about 95 percent ethanol and 5 percent water. This kind of product can be used in the variety industrials such as paints, solvents, inks, detergents, pharmaceuticals etc.

Fuel Grade
Fuel ethanol or anhydrous ethanol is nearly free of water and at least 99.5 percent pure. This ethanol can be blended with conventional gasoline. Ethanol with a 10 percent ratio can be used in modern engines without modification.


Production Process

In Liquefaction process convertible starch in flour is solubilised into dextins by liquefying enzyme. Saccharifying enzyme further converts dextrin into glucose during fermentation process. Before liquefaction process, cassava chips are first cleaned to remove stone, iron particle or any coarse foreign material like twigs, cobs or threads. Then cassava chips are milled to flour in hammer mill to obtain desired particle size. Flour is weighed prior it is mixed with dilution streams in slurry preparation section. In slurry preparation section flour is mixed with hot water or recycle streams along with enzyme. Starch rapidly takes up water and gets gelatinized. Thus, it is converted from an insoluble to a soluble form. Gelatinized starch is also called “Dextrins”.

Production Process

Yeast used in the ethanol fermentation is generally bakery yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae). It is adopted as a seeding for the fermentation.

An alcohol concentration in fermented sugar produced by the yeast initially gives the concentration of the alcohol about 10-12 %. The alcohol is then upgraded to a higher concentration by separated it from water and other non-fermentable materials. The concentration of the alcohol is then finally upgraded to be 95%-96 % by a distillation process. The alcohol with 95%-96% concentration is normally called “hydrous alcohol”, which can fuel only for those special designed vehicles such as flex fuel cars.

However, the ethanol, with a purpose to blending with the gasoline, for uses in general vehicles, it must be an anhydrous ethanol (99.5% alcohol concentration). Thus, the residual remaining water in hydrous alcohol must be removed by a molecular sieve dehydration process to produce the anhydrous alcohol.

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