Biobutanol production from C5/C6 carbohydrates integrated with pervaporation: experimental results and conceptual plant design

  • Wouter Van Hecke
  • Pieter Vandezande
  • Marjorie Dubreuil
  • Maarten Uyttebroek
  • Herman Beckers
  • Heleen De Wever


In this study, a simulated lignocellulosic hydrolyzate was used in a continuous two-stage fermentor setup for production of acetone, butanol and ethanol. An organophilic pervaporation unit was coupled to the second fermentor. The dilution rate in the first fermentor was kept constant at 0.109 h−1, while the dilution rate in the second fermentor was gradually decreased from 0.056 to 0.020 h−1. Glucose was completely consumed, while 61 % of the xylose was consumed at the lowest dilution rate, leading to an overall solvent productivity of 0.65 g L−1 h−1 and a high concentration of 185 g kg−1 solvents in the permeate in the last fermentation zone during 192 h. Based on the experimental results, a process integrated with organophilic pervaporation was conceptually designed and compared with a base-case. Chemcad simulations indicate an energy reduction of ~50 % when organophilic pervaporation is used. This study also demonstrates significant reductions in process flows and energy consumption by the use of organophilic pervaporation as in situ product recovery technology.


Bioprocess design Biobutanol Process integration Product inhibition In situ product recovery Pervaporation 









Dilution rate (h−1)




Flux (g m−2 h−1)


Lower heating value


Multiple-effect evaporator


Solvent productivity (g L−1 h−1)




Glucose consumption (g L−1 h−1)

\( t_{\text{r}} \)

Residence time (h)


Volatile fatty acids (g L−1)


Vapor–liquid equilibrium


Mole fraction in feed (−)


Effluent flow rate (kg h−1)


Pervaporation flow rate (kg h−1)


Mole fraction in vapor (−)

\( Y_{{{\raise0.7ex\hbox{$P$} \!\mathord{\left/ {\vphantom {P S}}\right.\kern-0pt} \!\lower0.7ex\hbox{$S$}}}} \)

Solvent yield (g solventsg glucose −1 )

Greek symbols


Separation factor (−)


Enrichment factor (−)



This research received funding from the Government of Flanders (Belgium) and from the European Union Horizon 2020 Research and innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No 640462 (ButaNexT).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicting interests.


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Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO)Business Unit Separation and Conversion TechnologyMolBelgium

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