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Economic value and environmental impact analysis of lignocellulosic ethanol production: assessment of different pretreatment processes

  • André Rodrigues Gurgel da Silva
  • Aristide Giuliano
  • Massimiliano Errico
  • Ben-Guang Rong
  • Diego BarlettaEmail author
Original Paper
  • 37 Downloads

Abstract

Second-generation bioethanol represents an interesting alternative to liquid fuels in times of increased concerns over global warming and energy security. However, the recalcitrant structure of lignocellulosic biomass feedstock makes necessary a pretreatment process to increase the conversion of sugars. Diluted acid, liquid hot water, steam explosion, ammonia fiber explosion, and organosolv pretreatments are assessed using a combined economic value and environmental impact analysis under a full biorefinery setup in order to assess the best pretreatment process from a techno-economic-environmental point of view. Five process areas were identified within each process considered: pretreatment stage, conversion stage, product purification and separation stage, water treatment stage, and cogeneration stage. A process simulation software was used to consider material and energy balances of the biorefineries with different pretreatment processes and to optimize the separation and purification processes (e.g., distillation columns). For the considered biomass and scenarios, all processes resulted in positive gains in terms of economic feasibility and carbon dioxide emissions. In particular, diluted acid can be considered the best pretreatment process to produce lignocellulosic bioethanol thanks to the best techno-economic-environmental performances, with the largest economic and environmental margins of 39.2 M$/year and 83.9 kt CO2/year, respectively.

Graphical abstract

Keywords

Bioethanol Pretreatment EVEI Techno-economic analysis Environmental impact 

List of symbols

ak

Auxiliary raw materials inlet to the area k

CCk

Annualized capital cost for all the equipment present in area k ($/year)

\(C_{i,k}^{\text{a}}\)

Economic cost of the auxiliary material i for the area k ($/t)

\(C_{i,k}^{\text{u}}\)

Economic cost of plant utility i for the area k ($/t)

\(C_{i,k}^{\text{m}}\)

Economic cost of emissions/wastes i for the area k ($/t)

CIk

Environmental impacts associated with the material used for the construction of the process units in area k (−)

COP

Cost of production ($/GJ)

CVP

Credit value on processing ($/GJ)

EI

Environmental margin (tCO2/year)

EIC

Environmental impact cost (kgCO2/GJ)

EV

Economic margin ($/year)

fk

Main process streams to area k

\(F_{i,k}^{\text{a}}\)

Flow rate of auxiliary materials i inlet to area k (t/year)

\(F_{i,k}^{\text{u}}\)

Flow rate of utilities i inlet to area k (t/year)

\(F_{i,k}^{\text{m}}\)

Flow rate of emissions/wastes i outlet from area k (t/year)

\(F_{i,k}^{\text{f}}\)

Flow rate of the inlet process stream i to area k (GJ/year)

\(F_{i,k}^{\text{p}}\)

Flow rate of the outlet process stream i from area k (GJ/year)

Iend

End use emissions of the bioethanol (tCO2/GJ)

\(I_{i,k}^{\text{a}}\)

Environmental cost of auxiliary materials i inlet to area k (tCO2/t)

\(I_{i,k}^{\text{u}}\)

Environmental cost of plant utilities i inlet to area k (tCO2/t)

\(I_{i,k}^{\text{m}}\)

Environmental cost of emissions/wastes i outlet from area k (tCO2/t)

Ipeq

Equivalent CO2 emissions of existing product that will be displaced (tCO2/GJ)

ICP

Impact cost of production ($/GJ)

LHV

Lower heating value (J/kg)

\(m_{k}\)

Emissions and wastes outlet from the area k

nfk

Number of inlet process streams in the area k, excluding auxiliary and utilities streams inlet to the area k

\(n_{k}^{\text{a}}\)

Number of auxiliary streams inlet to area k

\(n_{k}^{\text{u}}\)

Number of utilities streams inlet to area k

\(n_{k}^{\text{m}}\)

Number of emissions/wastes outlet from area k

npk

Number of outlet process streams, excluding emissions and waste streams outlet from the area k

pk

Product streams from area k

TECk

Total economic cost of the area k ($/year)

TEIk

Total environmental impacts of the area k ($/year)

uk

Utilities inlet to the area k

VOP

Value on processing ($/GJ)

αj,k

Economic allocation factor

βj,k

Environmental allocation factor

γ

Equivalency factor

Δe

Specific economic margin ($/GJ)

Δi

Specific impact savings (tCO2/GJ)

Abbreviations

AFEX

Ammonia fiber explosion

CEPCI

Chemical Engineering Plant Cost Index

COGEN

Cogeneration section

CONV

Hydrolysis and fermentation section

DA

Diluted acid

EVEI

Economic values and environmental impact

HMF

Hydroxymethylfurfural

LCA

Life cycle assessment

LHW

Liquid hot water

PRET

Pretreatment section

SE

Steam explosion

SEP

Separation and purification section

WAT

Wastewater treatment section

Notes

Supplementary material

10098_2018_1663_MOESM1_ESM.docx (120 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 120 kb)

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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology and Environmental TechnologyUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdense MDenmark
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Ingegneria IndustrialeUniversità degli Studi di SalernoFiscianoItaly

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