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 TechNeed Challenge

Seeking: Acetic acid recovery system for use with industrial effluent stream

Our new chemical facility produces a substantial quantity of acetic acid as a byproduct, which requires environmental recovery. However, wastewater treatment is expensive, and acetic acid has a value as a product if we can recover it in a high-purity form (+99.5%).

Chart of wastewater components

Our process effluent stream contains low concentrations of acetic acid (10% to 15%, without other impurities). However, recovering it from the wastewater stream using current treatment technology is very costly. We want to recover the acetic acid using a more economical process. Recovered acetic acid must be of high purity (minimum 99.5%) to remain commercially viable.

There appears to be two basic options:

  • Recover acetic acid from the effluent stream using acetic acid distillation and solvent extraction. This option requires little energy consumption, but using a solvent increases wastewater treatment costs.
  • Use a process that changes acetic acid to ethyl acetate, and then recover the ethyl acetate (also a valuable commercial compound). This is a complex process.

Ideally, we would find a recovery process for acetic acid. It is possible to recover 20,000 tons/year of pure acetic acid from our process.

Possible solutions may come from industries producing terephthalic acid. The terephthalic acid production process also produces acetic acid a byproduct. We may be able to learn from their acetic acid recovery experience. Other solutions may come from solvent extraction and distillation technologies (we are using CYANEX923 as solvent), or from companies practicing reaction distillation.

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