Carnegie Mellon University press release, Jan. 26, 2006
Carnegie Mellon University chemical engineers have devised a new process that can improve the efficiency of ethanol production, a major component in making biofuels a significant part of the U.S. energy supply.
Carnegie Mellon researchers have used advanced process-design methods combined with mathematical-optimization techniques to reduce the operating costs of corn-based bio-ethanol plants by more than 60 percent.
The key to the Carnegie Mellon strategy involves redesigning the distillation process by using a multicolumn system together with a network for energy recovery that ultimately reduces the consumption of steam, a major energy component in the production of corn-based ethanol.
"This new design reduces the manufacturing cost for producing ethanol by 11 percent, from $1.61 a gallon to $1.43 a gallon," said Chemical Engineering Professor Ignacio E. Grossmann. ... "This research is also an important step in making the production of ethanol more energy efficient and economical."