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Facts at Your Fingertips: Fermentation Considerations and Economics

By Scott Jenkins |

Producing chemicals and fuels by fermentation of renewable feedstocks can offer improved sustainability, lower costs and greater safety compared to conventional thermal processes. But realizing these benefits depends on a careful assessment of the process economics, and an understanding of the differences between fermentation-based processes and alternatives. This one-page reference offers a brief discussion. Process considerations Key considerations for fermentation processes differ from those using petroleum-based feedstock. Impurities. Chemicals from fossil feedstocks have characteristic impurities that differ from those derived biologically, even if both technologies offer end products at the same purity level. For example, the feedstock for bio-based processes is often carbohydrates. These can lead to product-quality issues, such as color and odor, if not addressed during process design. Engineers for fermentation-based processes must be familiar with carbohydrate, and protein and amino acid chemistries, as well as methods for separating color and odor-causing compounds. Separations. Separating the desired chemical product from the fermentation broth often requires different techniques and equipment than what might be found…
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