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Comment Processing & Handling

Scaleup for a microbial process that produces acetic acid from offgases

By Gerald Parkinson |

A demonstration plant for the production of acetic acid from the carbon dioxide in industrial offgases will be built at an operating plant of Petronas (Kuala Lumpur; www.petronas.com.my), Malaysia’s national oil company, under an agreement with LanzaTech (Roselle, Ill.; www.lanzatech.com), developer of the process. Scheduled for startup in late 2013, the plant will be similar in size to a demonstration unit for a LanzaTech process that produces ethanol and 2,3 butanediol (2,3-BD) from the carbon monoxide in offgases, says Mike Schultz, the company’s vice-president of engineering. That plant started up last April at a Bao Steel (Shanghai) steel mill and produces 100,000 gal/yr (300 ton/yr) of ethanol (see CE, December 2010, p. 12). The CO2 process is similar to the CO technology in that it uses fermentation media containing naturally occurring bacteria that have been optimized to obtain a product (acetic acid in the case of CO2). Raw offgases are sparged into the solution, and the CO2 reacts with hydrogen at 35–40°C to yield acetic acid, plus water. The rest of the components in the gases are inert and pass through the reactor. Schultz says that, unlike CO, CO2 is readily soluble in water, which makes the CO2 process…
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