Kansas Patent of the Month – February 2023

Lucas E3 , LLC has developed a regenerative vapor energy recovery system for ethanol plants, allowing for the recycling of energy to minimize the overall energy consumption of an ethanol plant. The system uses a regenerative precondenser, hot water surge tank, and hot water flash tank to recirculate hot water and partially condensed vapor. The design uses waste heat recovered from the DDG Dryer exhaust to drive ethanol distillation.

The hot water flash tank receives the rectifier bottoms from the ethanol plant and also receives dilution water from the ethanol plant. The energy recovery system also includes a hot water recirculation pump which sends a warm water stream to the regenerative precondenser, while the excess water is diverted to the ethanol plant for dilution. The system supplies partially condensed regenerative vapor to the ethanol plant and is maintained at a variable-rate. The hot water stream is maintained at a temperature of 190°F to 200°F.

The hot water supply is pumped via a heated water pump to the hot water flash tank, where it is cooled to 185°F and used to create hot water flash vapor. The hot water flash vapor is then directed to the ethanol plant for use as an energy source. The hot water flash tank is also in fluid communication with the ethanol plant to supply a water stream in the form of 190°F to 200°F heated water. The water from the ethanol plant is then fed back to the hot water flash tank to release energy in the form of hot water flash vapor.

The Lucas E3 system recirculates the warm water to minimize the amount of energy needed to heat the water. The excess water can be used for dilution purposes in the ethanol plant, reducing the overall energy consumption. It’s a sustainable solution that helps to reduce energy costs and improve efficiency in the ethanol production process.

Scott Lucas founded Lucas E3 to combine efficiency and engineering in ethanol production. Scott worked on ethanol plant design projects for over 15 years, becoming familiar with how the industry struggled with antiquated plant designs and deciding to take matters into his own hands. He created his own ethanol services company to focus on more modern and efficient methods of producing ethanol, with sustainability and cost efficiency in mind. The resulting designs offer exceptional value to greenfield plant projects, yet can be retrofitted to existing plants to improve yield and profit margin.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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