SBIR Phase I: Novel Membrane for Lactate Esterification

Period of Performance: 01/01/2006 - 12/31/2006

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Materials Modification, Inc.
2809-K Merrilee Drive Array
Fairfax, VA 22031
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Abstract

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is aimed at developing a novel pervaporation membrane for the separation of water during esterification reaction to improve yields of lactate esters. Ethyl lactate is used in large volume and is produced from fermentation of renewable carbohydrate sources such as corn. The higher cost of manufacture of lactate esters is due to the low yield of the esterification process. The cost of the manufacture can be lowered by increasing the efficiency of the esterification process. To improve the efficiency of the process, a novel membrane is proposed to achieve high separation and yield. The use of an efficient membrane for separation in lactate ester production holds several benefits from the industrial, commercial and environmental standpoint. Lactate esters such as ethyl lactate are safe alternatives to conventional organic industrial solvents that are known to damage the ozone layer and pollute groundwater.