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Title:Characteristics of heat transfer fouling of thin stillage using model thin stillage and evaporator concentrates
Author(s):Challa, Ravi Kumar
Director of Research:Rausch, Kent D.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Rausch, Kent D.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Danao, Mary-Grace; Engeseth, Nicki J.; Singh, Vijay; Johnston, David B; Tumbleson, Mike E
Department / Program:Engineering Administration
Discipline:Agricultural & Biological Engr
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Thin Stillage
Heat Transfer Surface Fouling
Annular Fouling Probe
Corn Ethanol
Dry Grind Process
Abstract:The US fuel ethanol demand was 50.3 billion liters (13.3 billion gallons) in 2012. Corn ethanol was produced primarily by dry grind process. Heat transfer equipment fouling occurs during corn ethanol production and increases the operating expenses of ethanol plants. Following ethanol distillation, unfermentables are centrifuged to separate solids as wet grains and liquid fraction as thin stillage. Evaporator fouling occurs during thin stillage concentration to syrup and decreases evaporator performance. Evaporators need to be shutdown to clean the deposits from the evaporator surfaces. Scheduled and unscheduled evaporator shutdowns decrease process throughput and results in production losses. This research were aimed at investigating thin stillage fouling characteristics using an annular probe at conditions similar to an evaporator in a corn ethanol production plant. Fouling characteristics of commercial thin stillage and model thin stillage were studied as a function of bulk fluid temperature and heat transfer surface temperature. Experiments were conducted by circulating thin stillage or carbohydrate mixtures in a loop through the test section which consisted of an annular fouling probe while maintaining a constant heat flux by electrical heating and fluid flow rate. The change in fouling resistance with time was measured. Fouling curves obtained for thin stillage and concentrated thin stillage were linear with time but no induction periods were observed. Fouling rates for concentrated thin stillage were higher compared to commercial thin stillage due to the increase in solid concentration. Fouling rates for oil skimmed and unskimmed concentrated thin stillage were similar but lower than concentrated thin stillage at 10% solids concentration. Addition of post fermentation corn oil to commercial thin stillage at 0.5% increments increased the fouling rates up to 1% concentration but decreased at 1.5%. As thin stillage is composed of carbohydrates, protein, lipid, fiber and minerals, simulated thin stillage was prepared with carbohydrate mixtures and tested for fouling rates. Induction period, maximum fouling resistance and mean fouling rates were determined. Two experiments were performed with two varieties of starch, waxy and high amylose and short chain carbohydrates, corn syrup solids and glucose. Interaction effects of glucose with starch varieties were studied. In the first experiment, short chain carbohydrates individual and interaction effects with starch were studied. For mixtures prepared from glucose and corn syrup solids, no fouling was observed. Mixtures prepared from starch, a long glucose polymer, showed marked fouling. Corn syrup solids and glucose addition to pure starch decreased the mean fouling rates and maximum fouling resistances. Between corn syrup solids and glucose, starch fouling rates were reduced with addition of glucose. Induction periods of pure mixtures of either glucose or corn syrup solids were longer than the test period (5 h). Pure starch mixture had no induction period. Maximum fouling resistance was higher for mixtures with higher concentration of longer polymers. Waxy starch had a longer induction period than high amylose starch. Maximum fouling resistance was higher for waxy than high amylose starch. Addition of glucose to waxy or high amylose starch increased induction period of mixtures longer than 5 h test period. It appears that the bulk fluid temperature plays an important role on carbohydrate mixture fouling rates. Higher bulk fluid temperatures increased the initial fouling rates of the carbohydrate mixtures. Carbohydrate type, depending on the polymer length, influenced the deposit formation. Longer chain carbohydrate, starch, had higher fouling rates compared to shorter carbohydrates such as glucose and corn syrup solids. For insoluble carbohydrate mixtures, fouling was severe. As carbohydrate solubility increased with bulk fluid temperature, surface reaction increased at probe surface and resulted in deposit formation. Higher surface temperatures eliminated induction periods for thin stillage and fouling was rapid on probe surface.
Issue Date:2015-04-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Ravi Challa
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-22
Date Deposited:May 2015

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