BioGasol is a Danish company that has developed a biomass pre-treatment system comfortably situated upstream in cellulosic biofuels production. The system, called Carbofrac, provides more efficient and lower cost biochemical conversion of lignocellulosic feedstocks such as wood and agricultural waste.
The company owns at least nine U.S. patents and published applications, including U.S. Application Publication No. 2012/0100045 (’045 Application), which covers the pre-treatment system.
The ’045 Application is entitled “Apparatus for rapid mixing of media and method” and directed to an apparatus (100) for processing at least two media. The apparatus (100) has a reaction chamber (102), a casing (108), at least two inlets for a materials to be processed and another medium, a rotating means (111), a series of rotating elements (110), and a lid (104).
The reaction chamber casing (108) has a conical shape to facility flow of the materials toward the lid (104), and the inlet is adapted so the material to be processed moves in a direction parallel to the radius of the rotating means (111).
The second figure shows the reaction chamber (102) in more detail. Rotating elements (205, 206) generate a vortex inducing mixture and transport of the feedstock material, thereby optimizing release of a medium such as steam or a chemical reagent and providing for a rapid interaction between the medium and the feedstock:
The rotating discs are designed in order to provide comminution, dispersion and fluffing of the pulp introduced and exposure of said material to a medium, i. e. gas or liquid, to produce a rapid interaction. The rotating discs are designed in order to optimize the medium release at the instant of comminution, dispersion and fluffing.
According to the ’045 Application, the “comminution and the dispersion effect” of the rotating elements cause “an instantaneous inclusion of the injected medium in the pulp” which, in turn, leads to reduced reaction time:
This allows localized and immediate contact between the freshly dispersed and comminuted pulp and the chemical reagent causing a fast and efficient reaction between the two. Reaction time is therefore reduced since the chemical reagent is put in intimate contact with the pulp minimizing the diffusion time through the pulp.
Eric Lane is a patent attorney at McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP in San Diego and the author of Green Patent Blog. Mr. Lane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org