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EPIC Designs and Builds Two Phase Batch Reaction-to-Distillation Pilot Plant that Brings Versatility for Argo Genesis

Key Features: 

  • Two phase batch reaction-to-distillation system
  • Process scale-up of new technology to working demonstration pilot plant
  • Multipurpose biopolymer processing system for new product development
  • Agitation and pumping systems which handle highly viscous material
  • Solvent recovery and recycling

Core Challenges:

  • Upscaling new, lab tested formula for full demonstration plant production
  • Designing the multi-skid pilot system to withstand harsh Iowa winters and other weather elements due to the outdoor location of the final installation.
  • Creating a flexible process design capable of processing several formulas, including unknown future formulations.

The EPIC Solution

Argo Genesis is a leading agribusiness company that recently partnered with EPIC Systems, Inc. to take a newly formulated asphalt additive and scale it to a pilot plant level of production. EPIC worked with lab data and the client’s knowledge of the process to design and fabricate a two-phase batch-reaction-to-distillation processing plant.

The pilot module represents an investment in commercializing biopolymer technology for the client and their project partners. This industry leading process allows testing and development of several promising biopolymer technologies, proving their viability for commercial production and distribution.

A steam stripping process was suggested and implemented by EPIC. This solution allowed water from the steam to act as a barrier liquid between the solvent and bio-polymer during separation, preventing the formation of a hardened plug. Solvent is recovered and reused during the steam stripping process.

EPIC’s project engineering team simulated the process scale-up with Aspen Plus Software. Proper demonstration plant function was ensured by expert simulation before mechanical design and skid fabrication began. To reduce safety concerns and cost of designing an indoor hazardous process, the modular plant was designed to be installed outdoors.

In total, this project consisted of nine months of joint process development followed by eleven months of fabrication and onsite start-up and commissioning. The pilot plant was shipped by EPIC Systems, Inc. in May of 2015 to Ames, Iowa and on August 26, 2015 the pilot module was dedicated to Iowa State University on the behalf of Argo Genesis, LLC.

Final Impact

  • New biopolymer formulations produced in 32 working hours, speeding up the development process significantly
  • An industry leading biopolymer demonstration plant that is the first of its kind
  • A flexible process, allowing customer to test multiple formulas and prove viability for commercialization at a demonstration plant scale
  • Contact an engineer – 314-274-1941 – to discuss your custom pilot plant project today.

To learn more about how pilot plants remove risk from full-scale manufacturing projects, check out this article on

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