Liga Agricola Industrial de la Caña de Azucar – LAICA

Located in Punta Morales, Costa Rica, LAICA began start-up and production in 1988. Purchased as a used system, the plant was originally designed to produce 300,000 liters per day of ASTM motor fuel grade ethanol by dehydrating European wine alcohol or Brazilian spirit. The original equipment was designed for use of benzene in dehydration. KATZEN made significant modifications to the rectification system prior to the initial production of ethanol in order to restore the equipment to proper function.

Throughout the early 1990’s, KATZEN continued to consult with LAICA in relation to methanol, boiler, turbo-generator, and cooling water projects. In 1994, KATZEN designed the next major upgrade of the system, which entailed converting the benzene system to a molecular sieve dehydration system.

Through incremental process improvements, the facility was able to achieve 440,000 liters per day before LAICA requested KATZEN to upgrade the capacity by 40% (620,000 liters per day) in a two stage process in 2001. The expansion afforded LAICA the opportunity to take full advantage of new feedstock opportunities from Brazil. The first stage upgraded the capacity of the existing three-bed molecular sieve by 10% without requiring a major shutdown. The second stage achieved full production capacity by converting the system to a four-bed molecular sieve. The redesign also incorporated significant improvements in the thermal efficiency of the facility.

KATZEN provided to LAICA the process design package, detail engineering and construction liaison, operator training and start-up service.