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CE 640 Biotechnical Production of Ethanol
Education / GUNT Hamburg / Process Engineering / Biological Process Engineering /

As well as its great importance for the chemical and foodstuffs industries, ethanol (alcohol) is increasingly used as a fuel. The CE 640 can be used to conduct realistic experiments for the production of ethanol from starch-based raw materials such as potatoes. The experimental plant consists of three main components: a mash tank, a fermentation tank and a distillation unit.
A mixture of water, finely chopped potatoes and alpha-amylase (enzyme) is filled into the mash tank. To dissolve the tightly packed starch chains in the potatoes, heating steam is injected into the mixture via a nozzle (gelatinisation). This increases the flow resistance of the mash, which would prevent further processes. The alpha-amylase breaks up the starch chains (liquefying) thereby reducing the flow resistance. Gluco-amylase is used to convert the starch into sugar (saccharification). This enzyme requires lower temperatures and pH values. The temperature is reduced using the water cooling jacket around the mash tank, the pH value is reduced by the addition of acid. After saccharification the mash is pumped into the fermentation tank. During the fermentation process in this tank, ethanol is produced. A water cooling system controls the temperature. After the fermentation process, the mash is pumped into the distillation unit. This is equipped with a bubble tray column for separation of the ethanol. Two vessels are available, one for the spent mash, the other for the distilled ethanol.

  The experimental plant has comprehensive measurement, control and operating functions, which are controlled via a PLC. A touch screen displays measured values and permits the operation of the system.

Learning Objectives / Experiments

- Familiarization with the necessary individual steps

  and system components for production of ethanol:
  * gelatinisation by steam injection
  * liquefaction by use of alpha-amylase
  * saccharification by use of gluco-amylase
  * fermentation: conversion of sugar into ethanol by

     yeast cultures under anaerobic conditions
  * distillation: separation of ethanol from the mash


[1] Batch conversion of starch-based raw materials into ethanol
[2] Open mash tank with water-jacket cooling, steam injection and stirrer
[3] Closed fermentation tank with stirrer and water-jacket cooling
[4] Distillation unit with 3 bubble trays, dephlegmator, condenser and stirrer
[5] 2 pumps for delivering the mash
[6] pH value reduction in the mash tank with acid delivered by a metering pump
[7] Mash tanks and fermentation tank of stainless steel
[8] Adjustment of the amount of injected heating steam, the cooling water flow rates and the head temperature by means of 4 PID controllers
[9] PLC control unit operated by touch screen; PC aided data acquisition via USB interface

[10] Steam supply from laboratory network or steam generator

Technical Data

- mash tank, fermentation tank, sump: each 40L
- product: 10L
- spent mash (removable): 30L
Distillation unit
- column: Dxh: approx. 220x1200mm
- sump heater: 0...7500W
2 pumps driven by compressed air
- max. head (2 bar drive pressure): 20m
- max. flow rate (2 bar drive pressure): 15L/min
- max. solid lump size: 4mm
Metering pump (acid)
- max. head: 160m
- max. flow rate: 2.1L/h
Measuring ranges
- 9 temperature sensors: 0...120°C
- water flow rate meter: 1...25L/min
- pH value: 1...14


Dimensions and Weight

l x w x h: 3000 x 1000 x 2000 mm

Weight: approx. 500 kg

Required for Operation
400V, 50Hz, 3 phase or 230V, 60Hz, 3 phase; compressed air 1,5...6bar; cooling water: min. 400L/h; steam 15kg/h at pmin: 3bar
Scope of Delivery

1 experimental plant

1 software CD with cable
1 set of instructional material

Order Details

083.64000  CE 640  Biotechnical Production of