Enhanced Furfural Production by an Innovative Bottom Dividing Wall Column with a Decanter Configuration
Nguyen Van Duc Long, Le Cao Nhien, Le Quang Minh and Moonyong Lee†
School of Chemical Engineering, Yeungnam University, Gyeongsan 712-749, South Korea
Furfural, which are used to derive other industrial chemicals, has been identified as one of the major bio-based platform chemicals that can compete with petroleum-based chemicals. However, the current commercial furfural process has low yield and requires intensive energy. This paper reports the simulation, detailed design and optimization of an industrial process recovering furfural from lignocellulosic biomass, a renewable and inexpensive feedstock. The aqueous feed mixture from the acidic hydrolysis of biomass was fed to the separation process to recover furfural as the main product, along with methanol as valuable byproducts. The purification process was intensified by applying an innovative bottom dividing wall column with a decanter configuration (BDWC-D). The response surface methodology (RSM), which allows the interactions between variables to be identified and quantified, was used to optimize the BDWC-D structure. The predictions by the RSM showed satisfactory agreement with the rigorous simulation results. The heat pump technology and heat integration were then employed to improve the purification process. The results showed that the proposed sequence could save the overall energy requirements and total annual cost significantly as compared to the conventional sequence. This sequence can be employed for both grass-root and retrofit designs.
Keywords: Lignocellulosic Biomass; Furfural; Energy Efficiency Improvement; Dividing Wall Column; Response Surface Methodology
The authors wish to acknowledge the financial support from the R&D Convergence Program of NST (National Research Council of Science & Technology) of Republic of Korea and KITECH (Korea Institute of Industrial Technology) (ES150001).
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