Separations Consortium: Counter Current Chromatography

Eric Karp, Hoon Choi, Eric Tan, Jian Liu, Mike Thorson

Research output: NRELPresentation


In support of the Bioenergy Technologies Office in recovering coproducts in biorefineries this project evaluates the use of Counter Current Chromatography (CCC) in recovering co-products from Reductive Catalytic Fractionation (RCF) oil, Alkaline Pretreatment Liquor (APL), aqueous phase Hydrothermal Liquefaction (HTL) oil, and Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis (CFP) oil. The project addresses three technology barriers in developing the bioeconomy; (1) Cost of production (2) Selective separation of organic acid species, and (3) Advanced bioprocess development. CCC is a unique, scalable, chromatographic technology that operates with two immiscible liquid phases moving counter current to one another. Unlike Simulated Moving Bed (SMB) technology, CCC is a true moving bed and because it uses liquids as both the stationary and mobile phase it can handle solids directly in the feed. This aspect of CCC allows it to skip the expensive filtration step needed prior to traditional SMB, furthermore the liquid phases are composed on relatively inexpensive organics (e.g. hexane and ethyl acetate). This project develops CCC methods for direct isolation of co-products from RCF oil, APL, HTL aqueous, and CFP oil. TechnoEconomic Analysis and process modeling is presented to compare CCC to SMB and assess its applicability in a holistic biorefinery. Initial results indicate approximately 4x reductions in solvent demand and 2x reduction in energy consumption compared to SMB.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages26
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the U.S. Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) 2021 Project Peer Review, 8-12, 15-16, and 22-26 March 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-2800-79474


  • alkaline pretreatment liquor
  • catalytic fast pyrolysis
  • catalytic fractionation
  • hydrothermal liquefaction


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