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Keywords:

  • succinic acid;
  • reactive extraction;
  • back extraction;
  • crystallization

Abstract

Biotechnologically produced succinic acid has the potential to displace maleic acid and its uses. Therefore, it is of high interest for the chemical, pharmaceutical, and food industry. In addition to optimized production strains and fermentation processes, an efficient separation of succinic acid from the aqueous fermentation broth is indispensable to compete with the current petrochemical production of succinic acid. Isolation and purification of succinic acid from an Escherichia coli fermentation broth were studied with two amine-based reactive extraction systems: (i) trihexylamine in 1-octanol and (ii) diisooctylamine and dihexylamine in a mixture of 1-octanol and 1-hexanol. Back extraction of succinic acid from the organic phase was carried out using an aqueous trimethylamine solution. The trimethylammonium succinate generated after back extraction was split with an evaporation-based crystallization. The focus was on process integration, for example, reuse of the applied amines for extraction and back extraction. It was shown that the maximum trimethylamine concentration for back extraction should not exceed the stoichiometric amount (2 mol trimethylamine/mol the succinic acid in the organic phase) to ensure maximal extraction yields with the reused organic phase in subsequent extractions. Moreover, mixer-settler extraction and back extraction of succinic acid were scaled up from the milliliter- to the liter-scale making use of liquid–liquid centrifuges. The overall yield was 83.5% of the succinic acid from the fermentation supernatant. The final purity of the succinic acid crystals was 99.5%. Organic phase and amines can easily be recycled and reused. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog.,, 2011