A methodology for the production of furfural as a aio-renewable chemical from sugarcane bagasse
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The amount of organic wastes from the agriculture industry is abundant in most of the sugar industries in Uganda but the sustainable utilization is still limited. Sugarcane bagasse is a fibrous by-product of the sugarcane industry. However, the utilization of sugarcane bagasse is still limited and is mainly used as a renewable energy source to power the distillery and cogeneration. But Sugarcane bagasse is a lignocellulosic biomass which contains polymers of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin bound together in a complex structure with composition 40.7%, 27.1%, 21.9% respectively which can be utilized for various commercial purposes; especially the demand of xylose from hemicellulose has increased in many chemical industries therefore this research is aimed to provide a methodology for the production of furfural from sugarcane bagasse to address the problem of excess sugarcane bagasse generated. The aim of this research is to design manufacturing process steps to extract the three main components at the same time using pretreatment steps of acid hydrolysis using dilute sulfuric acid in a reactor held at 121°C and immediately remove water using a flash drum and then filtering by use of centrifugation to obtain hemicellulose from cellulose + lignin mixture. Hemicellulose is then dehydrated in a continuous stirred tank reactor held at 200°C and the retention time is 3 hours to obtain furfural and water, lime (calcium hydroxide) is added to products stream to recover the acid. This is followed by distillation to obtain a pure sample of furfural product. The process was modeled using Aspen plus Technology and, on the contrary to other processes, it included the downstream process where the products were treated with drum drying and decanters to obtain as purified as possible the products, it has to be taken into account that there were some assumptions along the process because the data used was taken from batch processes and not for continuous processes, to reach more accurate results more experiments should be done in the laboratory in continuous process. During the simulation, 100kg/hr of xylose from acid hydrolysis is reacted with Sulphuric acid to give 64.001kg/hr of furfural and 35.999kg/hr. On distillation, a feed containing 51.8481kg/hr of furfural and 48.1519kg/hr water to obtain 18.5201kg/hr in the distillate and 33.328kg/hr in the product stream. Aspen results yielded can be formulated to give 133,344.72 kg per year of furfural, the reactor heat duty is 7687.9cal/s and the reactor volume is 18606 liters. Some experiments have been done in previous works where it was only studied the reactions where the components where extracted without taking into account the downstream process, which means that the products are not separated from the rest of the components and then there are no losses during the process as in this study.