The UK firm Whitefox Technologies secured a deal recently with the US biofuel producer United Ethanol (UE) to install its proprietary energy efficient membrane technology at UE’s plant in Wisconsin.
In order to extract ethanol from water, it must go through a distillation process. Traditionally, water removal is done through distillation columns, where the solution is heated and the water comes off as steam – an inevitably energy-intensive process.
However, Whitefox Technologies uses smart membrane technology to extract ethanol, a method it claims delivers significant efficiency savings in terms of both water and energy use.
The installation of the membrane at United Ethanol’s Wisconsin plant will work in parallel with the existing dehydration technology, according to the firm, and is expected enable a 20% boost in annual production to 60 million gallons (272,765,000 litres) of fuel.
David Cramer, United Ethanol President and CEO, says: “Many U.S. ethanol plants are increasing production capacity to capitalize on market opportunities. The Whitefox system allows us to expand and at the same time reduce natural gas, power and cooling water usage.”
The membrane solution is expected to be up and running at the plant by the third quarter of next year.