Featured Chemical Industry Project:

GS Caltex Acid Recovery Unit

Thermal Kinetics (TK) was first contacted in 2015 by GS Caltex (GSC is jointly owned by GS Holdings and Chevron) to provide an evaporation system to recover sulfuric acid for their first bio-butanol plant (see  GSC Bio-butanol/ Bluefire Renewables technology below).

Project Design

  • The TK system is designed to re-concentrate a 15% by weight sulfuric acid feedstock containing residual sugars.
  • The TK separation process is designed with specific mechanical and control features to minimize the impact of foaming.
  • The 75% H2SO4 product being delivered from the evaporator is re-introduced into a biomass process to hydrolize cellulose.

The acid concentration process is centered around a falling film, single-effect evaporator.  The separation of H2SO4 and water is straightforward, but the design of the system was complicated by the wide array of materials required to withstand the corrosiveness of the acid at elevated temperatures and high vacuum (glass-lined vessels, PTFE lined pipe/pumps and graphite heat exchangers).  Overall, the project was a success, with the modularized equipment being delivered on-time over a period of 45 weeks.  The equipment system shown in the picture was export boxed (main module) with auxiliary subassemblies and components shipped in two additional standard 40’ sea containers.  The re-assembly plan is illustrated in accompanying 3D exploded drawing.


GS Caltex Bio-butanol History:

Thermal Kinetics has been a technology and systems supplier to Bluefire Renewables for close to twenty years. Bluefire has developed and matured a wide range of technologies to process biomass into renewable ethanol and other chemicals, while recovering lignin and generating power and heat from the processes.  Thermal Kinetics has provided to Bluefire acid recovery systems (ARU) and ethanol distillation and dehydration technologies. Three years ago GS Caltex began development of a bio-butanol facility based on Bluefires’ patents and technology advances

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Other Chemical Industry Projects include:

Sodium Sulfate Production from Ore Dissolution and Purification Followed by Energy Efficient Four Effect Crystallization

In this project, the location in Mexico had a very limited water supply, so the challenge was to prepare and concentrate the 30% solution of sodium sulfate while minimizing the amount of water that the plant uses. Discover how we overcame this challenge and produce results for this facility.

Learn More

Modular Ethylene Glycol Purification System


Modular, Double Effect Caustic Soda (NaOH) Evaporator

Caustic Soda (NaOH) Evaporation to 50% with Anhydrous Flake and Material Handling

SO2 Scrubber

Modular Sorbitol Concentration Skid

Paint Resin Solvent Stripping-Concentrator with Foam Control