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Are Ionic Liquids Enabling Technology? Startup to Scale-Up to Find Out

  • Julia L. ShamshinaEmail author
  • Robin D. Rogers
Chapter
  • 64 Downloads
Part of the Green Chemistry and Sustainable Technology book series (GCST)

Abstract

Commercialization of new sustainable technology from academia to industry is based on the technology-enabling innovation, the manufacturability, the implementation cost, and the technology’s competitive advantage, such as functionality improvement(s) over the routine process or existing products. Future-minded thinking outside the accepted margins and innovative execution are involved in creating new markets. The majority of this chapter is dedicated to our experiences in pursuing the transition of ionic liquids (ILs)-based technology from academia to industry for the extraction of chitin ((C8H13O5N)n), the second most abundant biopolymer on the planet, directly from shrimp shells. While the dissolution and extraction of chitin was demonstrated as early as 2010, the necessity of using an IL presented hurdles for scaling the technology to a commercial level. The resultant chitin polymer could be extracted while maintaining its high-molecular weight and providing materials with high strength and unique control of the final form. In 2012, a Laboratory Demonstration Pilot Unit (LDPU) was built and tested, followed by further scale-up to a mini-pilot plant in 2014–2015 with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. Currently, this mini-pilot plant provides the groundwork for the construction of a larger plant for a scaled-up chitin extraction by Mari Signum, Mid-Atlantic. This will allow the generation of sufficient supplies of chitin and create new markets for this polymer. The high quality of the polymer and the ability to produce high-value products from it will give Mari Signum, Mid-Atlantic a competitive advantage not only to enter multiple focused profitable markets but also to create new markets. Once the polymer becomes available on a large-scale not only will the price decrease, but it will become available for the invention of additional products. When large-scale supply is available, it will provide confidence to investors due to known and manageable marketing and supply costs. The tremendous potential of chitin will soon be exploited for a number of industrial applications utilizing the full potential of this IL-based platform.

Keywords

Biomass Biopolymers Chitin Commercialization Ionic liquid Process development Product development Renewable polymers 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank 525 Solutions, Inc., U.S. Department of Energy Small Business Innovation Research Program (DOE-SBIR Grant No. DE-SC0010152, Phase I/II), and DOE Office of Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Energy University Programs (DOE NEUP Grant No. DE-NE0000672) for financial support. We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr. Eric Schneider (University of Texas at Austin, Mechanical Engineering in Cockrell School of Engineering) for the help with technology economic assessment, and Mr. Jonathan Bonner (Poly Engineering, Tuscaloosa, AL) for the help with scaling up the equipment to the production scale.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mari Signum, Mid Atlantic, LLCRichmondUSA
  2. 2.525 Solutions, Inc.TuscaloosaUSA

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