OAKVILLE, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 18, 2012) - KmX Corporation, a private Cleantech Corporation is setting up a one-ton pilot plant in Sarnia, Ontario to demonstrate how its membrane aided pathways to biofuels (cellulosic ethanol and biobutanol) and green chemicals can reduce operational costs and complexity for any manufacturer of fermented chemical products.
The pilot will show how KmX's hydrophobic and hydrophilic membranes can cost effectively capture and dehydrate the small volume of post fermented alcohol molecules in the fermentation broth. Today this process is carried out using energy intensive thermal processes which due to both azeotropic and inhibitor conditions in the broth are extremely complex. The combination of hydrophilic and hydrophobic membranes that operate at the molecular level will significantly reduce both energy consumption and complexity.
The pilot will also demonstrate KmX's novel (non enzymatic or acidic) hydrolysis process and show how the hydrolyzed sugar can be taken to a pre-crystalline state by using KmX's new sugar enrichment process. This membrane aided process has the potential of changing the dynamics regarding the distances that feedstocks can be utilized economically. By converting the feedstock to sugars on-site where the feedstock resides and decoupling the hydrolysis from the downstream bio-refining process, sugar rich hydrolysate rather than bulky low sugar biomass can be shipped from "feedstock spokes" to the "bio refinery hub" at significantly reduced shipping costs.
The dehydration step for bio butanol (both n- butanol and iso butanol) is facilitated by a naturally occurring phase change that takes place at approximately 10% butanol and 90% water assuming the absence of inhibitors which are removed by the membrane. As a result the bottom water phase can be simply decanted while the top butanol phase containing approximately 3% to 5% water can be dehydrated to anhydrous butanols using the hydrophilic membrane, saving well over 50% in energy consumption.
"KmX enables companies in the bio-fuels, chemical and plastics space to significantly reduce costs and complexity" said Isaac Gaon CEO of KmX Corporation "and a past objection to pervaporation technology that energy savings of 50% and more came at a higher capital cost compared to conventional thermal technologies is no longer the case as the capital cost of pervaporation solutions today are either similar or often less than thermal systems on a fully installed basis"