Ethanol Production

Heat Exchangers – The Weak Link in Ethanol Production?

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Self–Cleaning Spiral Heat Exchangers for Bio–Refinery

Two spiral heat exchangers in parallel are positioned right after pre-hydrolysis, where slurry is cooled down before being fed to fermentation. These spirals are specially designed for the slurry they are handling.

The one-channel design of the spiral heat exchanger makes it self-cleaning, cutting maintenance time and costs, energy consumption and heat loss. They also eliminated unscheduled downtime due to equipment blockages. This is particularly important in a development unit – since process conditions may vary much more than in a commercial plant.


Carsten Skjodt, Project Manager, Inbicon, was particularly happy about the self-cleaning properties of Alfa Laval’s heat exchangers. He said, “The self-cleaning spiral design eliminates blockages. Without that process, it would be very difficult to cool the product efficiently.”

Self–Sufficiency for Steam and Electricity

The biomass refinery at Kalundborg produces enough thermal and electrical energy to supply 100 per cent of its own requirement of steam and electricity.

* The author is Marketing Manager Biofuels & Sugar at Alfa Laval Lund AB.