California-based New Logic Research Inc. successfully installed a full-scale membrane separation system in late October, that reduces vinasse volume by 70 percent. The system uses the company’s proprietary Vibratory Shear Enhanced Processing (VSEP) technology at a Brazilian ethanol facility located in the state of Sao Paulo.

“The VSEP nanofiltration system currently recovers 70 percent of the raw vinasse as clean water for irrigation, leaving a concentrated vinasse that’s just 30 percent of its starting volume. This high nutrient value vinasse stream is currently sent to storage ponds while the ethanol producer weighs a multitude of options for beneficial use,” according to New Logic.

Recent evidence suggests application of vinasse as fertilizer reduces sugarcane yields in Brazil, and traditional methods of managing vinasse, including pipelines and evaporators, are costly, according to New Logic.

With a vinasse to ethanol ratio of 16:1, an innovative vinasse management system was necessary, according to CEO Greg Johnson. Vinasse contains phenolic compounds that build up in soil and reduce crop yields, and previously used crop rotation methods became futile, due to the increased phenolic buildup, added Josh Miller, business development manager.

The VSEP technology oscillates stacked membranes 55 times per second, generating 200 G’s of force at the outer edge of the system. The stacking system provides free movement of rejected solids, while the vibration keeps potential foulants from attaching to the membrane surface. While capturing water for irrigation, the “vibration enables New Logic to apply membranes to feed streams that would typically be impossible or uneconomical,” according to the company.

The VSEP system is compatible in existing ethanol plants or new construction. The system could be installed between the fermentation and distillation steps or after the distillation step to concentrate stillage or vinasse.

source: ethanolproducer

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