Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

Reducing Fresh Water Use in Dry-Grind Ethanol Manufacture

Presented by Kishore Rajagopalan, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - UIUC

May 5, 2010

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The conversion of biomass to energy, under the current state-of-the-art processes, requires the use of copious amounts of water. Recently constructed dry grind ethanol plants utilize 3 to 4 gallons H2O/gallon EtOH. Even this level of water usage for bioethanol production can place an undue burden on local water supplies. In some instances, the competition for water among various end-uses, including biofuel production, is sparking debate on the merits of large-scale bioenergy production.
This talk will present preliminary results from an ongoing investigation at an operating ethanol facility to identify opportunities for water reduction. Opportunities identified include improving the efficiency of RO operations, recycling of filter backwash, reuse of cooling tower blow down as well as feasibility of using treated municipal effluent. The talk will also address other considerations that may impact feasibility and extent of water reuse.

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