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Lactic Acid Production via Glucose Fermentation: Technology Profile

By Chemical Engineering |

Lactic acid is a naturally occurring chiral acid most commonly found in the L(+) form. Driven by a recent demand for more sustainable products, the lactic acid market has expanded beyond the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Currently, a major growth application is for the production of polylactic acid (PLA) polymer. This biodegradable polymer has the potential to replace petrochemical-based plastics in applications such as packaging, paper coating, fibers, films and a wide range of molded plastic items. The process Figure 1 depicts a process for lactic acid production via glucose fermentation similar to that developed by Purac (now Corbion; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; www.corbion.com). This process generates an 88 wt.% lactic acid solution in water that can be used as the raw material in polymerization processes. Rigorous control of fermentation conditions and additional purification steps are necessary to ensure both optically and chemically pure lactic acid. The quality of the PLA produced from it depends on the purity. Figure 1. A lactic-acid production process from glucose, similar to the Purac process[/caption] Fermentation. Glucose solution is fed to the fermenter. It undergoes a continuous anaerobic bacterial…
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