Ethanol Nuetralization - A new Vision

The sugar and ethanol industries in Brazil are vast, and continually growing; producing over 600,000 million tons of sugar crop and over 2,000 billion liters of ethanol product annually, since 2012. Southern Brazil’s climate and soil provide favorable conditions to the crop, allowing Brazil to produce 25% of the world’s sugar and ethanol annually.

A group of sugar and ethanol producers in Brazil were experiencing problems with their distillation columns; neutralizing the low pH in the tanks was creating a high conductivity within their systems; sometimes, outside of the industries regulated amounts. These plants struggled with high caustic consumption and wasted time spent to correct the conductivity after the acidity was neutralized. When ethanol production plants fail to meet the industry’s regulated pH range and maximum conductivity value, end consumers will not accept the ethanol product. To ensure that the group’s production facilities could continue successful business, they sought out a product that could raise the pH of the solution without raising the conductivity above the maximum regulated amounts.

The sugar and ethanol group was already familiar with Purolite; using Purolite’s products in two of their plants for water softening and sugar color removal. The group trusted Purolite, having seen great success with the products they were currently using, and greatly appreciating the frequent technical visits, resin analyses, and data tracking Purolite was providing to them. One of the plants within the group reached out to Purolite seeking a resin solution for the problems they were experiencing with pH and conductivity.

Purolite’s technical experts listened to the concerns of the plant operators and based on many years of experience with similar applications, they proposed two products: Purolite A500Plus and A504P, both strong base anion resins. Purolite had already used these products for de-acidification in other ethanol treatment plants, with positive results. The plant’s technician was very interested in Purolite’s proposed solution, and excited to see the results obtained. Purolite provided the customer with the ion exchange resin and instructions for installation and disposal.

Soon after the A500Plus and A504P were installed and the system put online, the plant saw a reduction in acidity, without any increase in the conductivity. The plant also experienced less caustic consumption, and more reliability from their systems. Because of the success they experienced with Purolite’s products, the plant built a single column vessel in which to use Purolite’s products for ethanol deacidification. Purolite also provided the production plant with ongoing technical support, including visits to their facilities, monitoring, and analyses after they had installed the new resins.

After the first year of operation, the customer reported that results indicated a 75% decrease in caustic consumption annually, and they only had to run one or two regenerations. Lower caustic consumption and neutralized pH and conductivity meant reduced costs of production, and a better resulting product. This benefits plants in Brazil’s sugar and ethanol industry, where new technologies and advancements have created a demand for a higher purity product. Because of the effectiveness of Purolite’s resins in solving these common issues, more plants within the sugar/ethanol producing group began reaching out to Purolite.

Purolite’s highly knowledgeable technical team, customer service, and high capacity resins ensured that the Sugar and Ethanol producing group’s plants were able to continue operation as normal, and stay within industry guidelines.

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