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1. WO2018182874 - METHODS AND APPARATUS FOR SEPARATING ETHANOL FROM FERMENTED BIOMASS

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[ EN ]

CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A method for separating ethanol from fermented biomass, said method comprising the steps of:

(a) providing an ethanol-rich fermented biomass;

(b) packing said ethanol-rich fermented biomass into a vertical distillation column;

(c) adding water to the bottom of said vertical distillation column;

(d) heating the bottom of said vertical distillation column to boil said water, thereby producing a bottom vapor;

(e) cooling the top of said vertical distillation column to condense a top vapor, thereby producing an ethanol-rich top liquid; and

(f) reintroducing a fraction of said ethanol-rich top liquid to the top of said vertical distillation column,

wherein steps (d) through (f) are performed simultaneously.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein said ethanol-rich fermented biomass is selected from the group consisting of fermented softwood chips, fermented stalks from the Poaceae family, fermented sugar beets, fermented potatoes, fermented sweet potatoes, fermented cassava tubers, and combinations thereof.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein said vertical distillation column is a metal drum or a metal bin.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein said vertical distillation column is a corrugated HDPE pipe with a metal bottom in a vertical orientation.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein step (c) comprises continuously or intermittently introducing external water to said vertical distillation column.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein heat is applied in step (d) using a method selected from the group consisting of thermal energy, induction heating, steam, and combinations thereof.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein said cooling in step (e) is applied using a method selected from air cooling, water cooling, or a combination thereof.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein step (f) is performed using a dephlegmator.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein steps (d) through (f) are performed at a pressure less than 100 kPa.

10. The method of claim 1, wherein step (c) is performed simultaneously with steps (d) through (f).

11. An apparatus for separating a fermentation product from fermented biomass, said apparatus comprising:

(a) a vertical distillation column containing fermented biomass as distillation packing, wherein said fermented biomass includes a fermentation product;

(b) a water reservoir either (i) contained within said vertical distillation column or (ii) physically isolated from but in flow communication with said vertical distillation column;

(c) heating means at the bottom of said vertical distillation column;

(d) cooling means at the top of said vertical distillation column; and

(e) reflux means to reintroduce cooled liquid to said top of said vertical distillation column.

12. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein said vertical distillation column is a metal drum or a metal bin.

13. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein said vertical distillation column is a corrugated HDPE pipe with a metal bottom in a vertical orientation.

14. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein said water reservoir is contained within said vertical distillation column, at or near the bottom of said vertical distillation column.

15. The apparatus of claim 14, said apparatus further comprising means to introduce external water to said vertical distillation column.

16. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein said water reservoir is physically isolated from said vertical distillation column.

17. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein said heating means is selected from the group consisting of thermal energy, induction heating, steam, and combinations thereof.

18. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein said cooling means is selected from air cooling, water cooling, or a combination thereof.

19. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein said reflux means is a dephlegmator.

20. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein said fermentation product is ethanol.