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A glucaric acid process moves closer to scaleup

By Scott Jenkins |

An economical method for producing glucaric acid from glucose was successfully scaled up three-fold to a 6-L reactor by its developer, Rivertop Renewables (Missoula, Mont.; www.rivertop.com). The company is planning to assemble a pilot-scale process capable of producing 3-million lb/yr. Glucaric acid is among a dozen “building-block” chemicals cited by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE; Washington, D.C.) as having the most significant economic potential as bio-based feedstocks for the chemical industry if they could be produced effectively on an industrial scale. The Rivertop technology, which can be applied to sugars other than glucose, such as xylose and sucrose, is a highly controlled, nitric-acid-oxidation process carried out in a closed reactor. Computer-based control of the reaction parameters is key to avoiding the thermal issues that are associated with regulating the exothermic reaction. Oxidation of glucose occurs at mild (20–40 °C) temperatures as the oxygen pressure and reaction time are carefully orchestrated. The O2 that is introduced to the reactor regenerates nitric acid (consumed in the oxidation) by reacting with NOx gases produced in the reaction. Glucaric acid is typically isolated as a water…
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