Novel distillation to be scaled, tested by modular system builder

By Susanne Retka Schill | June 23, 2015

Distillation Technologies Inc. and Easy Energy Systems Inc. announced an agreement to build and test DTI’s technology at pilot scale. DTI’s patented and trademarked Bubble Spray Distillation system reduces the energy needed for distillation by an estimated 75 percent through the use of nano technology in a vacuum.

Easy Energy Systems has developed a modular ethanol production system (MEPS) targeted at processing a wide variety of agricultural and urban waste streams into ethanol. One of the limitations of many alternative waste-based feedstocks is that the alcohol concentrations are lower than in a conventional corn ethanol plant, explained Jonathan Scarfpin, vice president of business development for Easy Energy Systems. “That makes distillation energy costs quite high.” Of equal interest, he added, is the application of the DTI technology to water purification, both to treat stillage without the need for evaporators and to facilitate water recycling.

Easy Energy Systems is building a facility in Mankato, Minnesota, to test the new technology. Scarfpin said they expect to be testing the water treatment application within seven months, followed by building and testing the alcohol separation technology, with a goal of making the technology available in mid-2016. Reducing the cost of distillation and improving water recycling will both increase the efficiency of MEPS, Scarfin said. The company has designed small modular systems, targeting a 500,000 gallon-per-year unit most suitable for R&D, as well as 1 MMgy, 2 MMgy and 5 MMgy units that can be matched with a targeted waste stream. They have a unit installed in Emmetsburg, Iowa, in partnership with Green Biologics. In addition, if the water treatment technology tests out as expected, a free-standing water treatment module will be designed for other applications.

Proof of concept for Bubble Spray Distillation has been achieved at bench scale with the help of Kansas City-based Midwest Research Institute and Aerosol Research and Engineering, said Dick Burton, CEO of Distillation Technologies. DTI has received a patent on the ethanol distillation concept and have a second patent pending on using the method for water purification.