Process Development Laboratory-East (PDL-E)
The PDL-E is a high-bay pilot plant facility including biomass processing, supercritical fluid processing and high-pressure chemical processing systems. Biomass processing methods for extraction or hydrolysis have been developed in this laboratory and then scaled up for engineering assessment.
Similar designs can be used to scale up bioprocessing systems as well.
A skid-mounted unit contains a complete continuous-flow high-pressure processing system including pumps, heat exchangers, and feed and product tanks. It is fully instrumented and has a computer-controlled data acquisition system. It has two 2-inch ID by 6-foot tall tubular reactors, each about 4-liters volume, with electrical heating and a tube-in-tube heat recovery system. The system can process at up to 365°C and 3500 psig.
The processing system is designed to run at one half ton per day of feed slurry. Pressure is maintained in the reactor system by a back-pressure regulator. After pressure letdown, gas and liquid products enter a separator/liquid product tank from which gas products are vented. Back-up product cooldown is accomplished with a forced air fan. For processing, the unit requires minimal setup; it has a single 480-volt input line.
Other process engineering equipment is also available including screen and membrane filter systems and supercritical fluid cleaning and extraction systems.
Also found at the PDL-E are micro-scale reactor systems for testing various gas phase reactions. These reactor systems include the 4-Plex system which allows parallel testing of catalyst formulations with online chemical analytical capability.
Two other reactor systems are constructed within ventilation hoods and allow testing of various micro-technology reactor configurations with a range of process gas components.
In addition, there are two high-pressure continuous-flow, fixed- catalyst-bed reactors for aqueous phase processes. These micro-scale reactors (30 milliliter bed) allow extended time process testing for catalyst lifetime determination. They are connected to the hydrogen compressor system at CEL to allow long-term, continuous hydrogen gas flow.