BioAmber (formerly DNP Green Technology) has developed a proprietary fermentation process to produce succinic acid using raw materials from agriculture and forestry. MATRIC has been able to provide chemical process and engineering expertise that has led to the development of a novel isolation and purification process for succinic acid. This process has substantially lower capital expenditure and operating expenses than the currently practiced methods of purification. The novel process has been developed at the pilot scale at MATRIC’s facilities in South Charleston, West Virginia.
The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) had sponsored research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on conversion of corn sugar to isosorbide, a potentially valuable polymer additive. When the ICPB decided that a larger scale process was needed, they approached MATRIC. Within a month of beginning the project, multiple pounds of pure material were being produced. Subsequent work has led to an improved larger-scale process, several patent applications, and the shipment of hundreds of pounds of material for applications testing.
When AKJ Industries was having problems with their existing product line, they asked MATRIC to develop a new side release agent that would prevent wet coal from freezing to the sides of rail cars during winter transport. Within six weeks, MATRIC had devised a method to quantitatively measure the effectiveness of potential products and had formulated a new green product with ten times better performance than the existing side release agents. MATRIC then assisted in the scale-up and commercialization of the new product.
An Australian company experienced two explosions in its chemical manufacturing unit and made contact with MATRIC for assistance. Within 10 days of initial contact, MATRIC had assembled a project team and sent a contingent to Australia. The root cause of the incidents was identified and a revised process with inherent safety and improved reliability was developed. The redesigned process was started up within two months and has operated without incident.
BEST Energies, a Wisconsin-based bioenergy company, contracted with MATRIC to develop a continuous biodiesel process. Research began in the laboratory and progressed to a small continuous pilot plant, which was used to develop the novel design for a commercial plant. MATRIC then led the detailed engineering effort for the plant and provided engineering construction support for the project. The plant, with a capacity of 8 million gallons per year, began operation within 20 months of the first laboratory experiment.
NatureWorks, which produces a polymer from 100% natural resources, wanted to expand the capacity of their manufacturing unit and approached MATRIC for assistance. A project team was formed, which visited the plant site and conducted an initial brainstorming session. Within weeks of the visit, several of the proposed process improvements were developed and implemented, significantly increasing the productivity of the plant.
When a major law firm needed experienced technical resources for a major case involving R&D tax credits, they approached MATRIC. A diverse team worked closely with the firm and its client to perform a technical assessment of thousands of documents, meeting a challenging schedule for completion. MATRIC also developed expert reports and testified before the court.
West Virginia State University has operated an anaerobic fermentation process for treating agricultural waste and converting it to useful and environmentally acceptable products. MATRIC was engaged to provide process engineering support and evaluate the commercial potential of the process. An economic model was developed that provided insight into the important considerations for commercialization.