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GROUP 5 CH E 4273 1 Ethyl Lactate Production By: Jeremy Jones, Trung Pham, Kristin Smart, David Splinter, and Michael Steele Capstone Design Project- University of Oklahoma - Spring 2003 1. Project Statement Ethyl lactate is an environmentally benign solvent, whose effectiveness can be compared to other petroleum-based chemicals. The purpose of this project is to determine the economic possibilities of ethyl lactate production using agricultural products as raw materials. A production plant is designed and a planning model is used to determine the plant sizes, locations, and target markets. 1.1 Project Objectives Three objectives were required to evaluate the varying scenarios for ethyl lactate production. First, an analysis on the validity of ethyl lactate entering the solvent market needed to be established. Next, information regarding process design and economic evaluations had to be performed. Finally, a mathematical model was constructed to determine plant locations, plant sizes, and a strategy to enter into the ethyl lactate wholesale market. This report is structured as follows: o Solvent Market Analysis ± Comparison of ethyl lactate properties to the properties of petroleum- based solvents and other degreasing agents ± Discussion of environmental impact and life cycle analysis of solvents o Model Considerations ± Locations for possible raw materials, production plants, and markets ± Changes in market demands and price fluctuations ± Fixed capital investment versus capacity data ± Operating costs o Mathematical Model Setup o Results and Conclusions 2.0 Solvent market analysis The worldwide solvent market is 33 billion lbs/yr, of which approximately 11 billion lbs are used domestically. Almost all manufacturing and processing industries depend on the use of solvents. This large consumption means that eventually some products will leach into the ecosystem, most critically resulting in contamination of large amounts of water. Many petroleum-based solvents have the drawbacks of high toxicity and cause ozone depletion. Some examples include the dry cleaning industry’s use of the toxic solvent perchlorethylene and degreasers such as trichlorethane and acetone. Green solvents, such as ethyl lactate, are those produced from renewable resources and are neither toxic nor ozone depleting. In addition to the
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GROUP 5 CH E 4273 2 environmental benefits of these solvents, the economical savings from cheaper disposal make them an attractive alternative. Ethyl lactate is produced in three different qualities – higher selling price denoting increased purity. At $1.60-$2.10 per pound, ethyl lactate has served as a specialty chemicals and high-end electronics with a market size of 20 million pounds per year. Specialty applications, including those for electronics, semiconductors, water-based coatings, etc., require a lower cost at about $1.25 per pound, with a market of 120 million pounds per year. At $0.85-$1.00 per pound ethyl lactate has begun to be used in general-purpose industrial and household cleaners and degreasers with a market of 5 billion pounds per year worldwide and 1-2 billion pounds in the United States.
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