One of the most unique features of the MSU Bioeconomy Institute is the on-site pilot-scale chemical processing facility. The Pilot Plant, which occupies approximately 30,000 square feet over two floors at the core of the building, once served the scale-up of production processes for several major pharmaceutical products. More than 30 separate chemical reaction vessels, ranging from 15 to 4000 liters and having a total capacity in excess of 39,000 liters, are available. Reactors having glass, stainless steel, Hastelloy and other material linings will accommodate a wide range of chemical reactants - most are fitted with condenser systems. Equipment exists to carry out reactions under a broad range of temperatures, pressures, and other conditions. Routine processes, as well as isolated hydrogenation capabilities and other specialized procedures can be carried out efficiently under the control of a centralized Foxboro control system. Additional equipment available for use includes large-scale distillation, centrifugation, filtering and drying apparatus. Pilot plant operating support is provided by MSU personnel having several years of experience working in this plant overseeing chemical process development and plant operations.
By providing access to such resources, MSU will greatly reduce one of the major barriers to the commercialization of chemical products by smaller firms - the high capital cost of intermediate or large scale process equipment. By allowing companies access to utilize the plant under the supervision of, and according to individual contractual arrangements with the University, the Institute hopes to accelerate the development and scale-up of high-value, biobased materials to enter the bioeconomy marketplace.