RECOVERY OF LACTIC ACID FROM AMERICAN CRYSTAL SUGAR COMPANY WASTEWATER

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This project has shown that the recovery of several valuable lactic acid products is both technically feasible and economically viable. One of the original objectives of this project was to recover lactic acid. However, the presence of a variety of indigenous bacteria in the wastewater stream and technical issues related to recovery and purification have resulted in the production of lactic acid esters. These esters could by hydrolyzed to lactic acid, but only with unacceptable product losses that would be economically prohibitive. The developed process is projected to produce approximately 200,000 lb per day of lactate esters from wastewater at ... continued below

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33 pages

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Stepan, Daniel J.; Olson, Edwin S.; Shockey, Richard E.; Stevens, Bradley G. & Gallagher, John R. April 30, 2001.

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Description

This project has shown that the recovery of several valuable lactic acid products is both technically feasible and economically viable. One of the original objectives of this project was to recover lactic acid. However, the presence of a variety of indigenous bacteria in the wastewater stream and technical issues related to recovery and purification have resulted in the production of lactic acid esters. These esters could by hydrolyzed to lactic acid, but only with unacceptable product losses that would be economically prohibitive. The developed process is projected to produce approximately 200,000 lb per day of lactate esters from wastewater at a single factory at costs that compete with conventional solvents. The lactate esters are good solvents for polymers and resins and could replace acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, MIBK, and other polar solvents used in the polymer industry. Because of their low volatility and viscosity-lowering properties, they will be especially useful for inks for jet printers, alkyl resins, and high-solid paints. Owing to their efficiency in dissolving salts and flux as well as oils and sealants, lactate esters can be used in cleaning circuit boards and machine and engine parts. Unlike conventional solvents, lactate esters exhibit low toxicity, are biodegradable, and are not hazardous air pollutants. Another application for lactate esters is in the production of plasticizers. Severe health problems have been attributed to widely used phthalate ester plasticizers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that replacement of these with inexpensive lactate esters is feasible, owing to their superior polymer compatibility properties. A very large market is projected for polymers prepared from lactic acid. These are called polylactides and are a type of polyester. Thermoplastics of this type have a variety of uses, including moldings, fibers, films, and packaging of both manufactured goods and food products. Polylactides form tough, orientable, self-supporting thin films and have, therefore, been used for adhesives, safety glass, and finishes. If the bacterial culture produces the L-lactic acid enanatiomer form exclusively, the L-lactide prepared from this form can be used for making polymers with good fiber-forming properties. We have not currently achieved the exclusive production of L-lactate in our efforts. However, markets in films and structural shapes are available for polymers and copolymers prepared from the mixed D,L-lactide forms that result from processing the D,L-lactic acid obtained from fermentation such as that occurring naturally in sugar beet wastewater. These materials are slowly biodegraded to harmless compounds in the environment, and they burn with a clean blue flame when incinerated. These materials represent excellent opportunities for utilization of the D,L-lactic mixture produced from natural fermentation of the ACS flume water. Esters can be converted into a lactide, and the alcohol released from the ester can be recycled with no net consumption of the alcohol. Lactide intermediates could be produced locally and shipped to polymer producers elsewhere. The polymer and copolymer markets are extremely large, and the role of lactides in these markets is continuously expanding. The overall process can be readily integrated into existing factory wastewater operations. There are several environmental benefits that would be realized at the factories with incorporation of the lactate recovery process. The process reduces the organic loading to the existing wastewater treatment system that should result in enhanced operability with respect to both solids handling and treated-water quality. A higher-quality treated water will also help reduce odor levels from holding ponds. Several water reuse opportunities are probable, depending on the quality of treated water from the FT process.

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33 pages

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OSTI as DE00788118

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  • Other Information: PBD: 30 Apr 2001

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  • Report No.: FC26-98FT40321--15
  • Grant Number: FC26-98FT40321
  • DOI: 10.2172/788118 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 788118
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc722553

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  • April 30, 2001

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  • Sept. 29, 2015, 5:31 a.m.

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  • March 30, 2016, 3:23 p.m.

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Stepan, Daniel J.; Olson, Edwin S.; Shockey, Richard E.; Stevens, Bradley G. & Gallagher, John R. RECOVERY OF LACTIC ACID FROM AMERICAN CRYSTAL SUGAR COMPANY WASTEWATER, report, April 30, 2001; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc722553/: accessed August 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.