Acetone, Butanol, Ethanol and, Xylitol Production Through a Biorefinery Platform: An Experimental & Simulation Approach



Butanol is an interesting biofuel and a product precursor, that could be obtained with acetone and ethanol via fermentation. The biofuels production has been identified as not economically competitive, thus, the parallel production of high value-added products, such as xylitol, could be an alternative to improve the profit. Xylitol can be produced from xylose, which might be considered as a coproduct in a second generation biorefinery.


This study presents a systematic biorefinery process design for the simultaneous acetone, butanol, ethanol (ABE) and xylitol production, based on experimental and simulation approaches. Experiments were performed for the pretreatment of sugarcane bagasse and ABE fermentation. The simulation part used the experimental results and experimental data from literature, to perform rigorous calculations of the ABE and xylitol production process. The economic analysis (EA) was performed relying on some indicators such as, the net present value (NPV) and payback period (PBP); EA includes several scenarios for producing only ABE and some scenarios for simultaneous ABE and xylitol production.


The results showed that the combined butanol and xylitol production could reduce by 17% the selling price of butanol, compared with only producing butanol. The study also included the combustion of residual solids and carbon dioxide depletion analyses.


This approach illustrates the opportunity to perform a rigorous techno-economic analysis, to identify the feasibility of the process at industrial scale, based on realistic data. This approach was implemented for ABE and xylitol production, but it can be used to any other bioproduct.

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Acetone, butanol and ethanol


Batch operation


Bottom temperature


Cellulose conversion


Continuous operation


Dry bagasse


Enzymatic hydrolysis


First liquid phase


Feed stage location




Glucose conversion


Humid bagasse


Hemicellulose conversion


Internal rate of return


Key compound


Net present value


Number of stages




Payback period


Partial condenser


Pressure increase




Return of investment


Reflux ratio


Reacting time


Sulfuric acid conversion


Second liquid phase




Top temperature


Vessel size


Vessels number


Xylose conversion


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The authors also acknowledge the “Ingenio Motzorongo S.A. de C.V.” for providing the lignocellulosic feedstock to perform the experiments.


The authors kindly acknowledge the partial financial support by Universidad de Guanajuato, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa and the Mexican Bioenergy Innovation Centre, Bioalcohols Cluster (249564).

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Correspondence to Divanery Rodriguez-Gomez.

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Morales-Rodriguez, R., Ponce-Rocha, J.D., Gómez-Castro, F.I. et al. Acetone, Butanol, Ethanol and, Xylitol Production Through a Biorefinery Platform: An Experimental & Simulation Approach. Waste Biomass Valor (2021).

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  • ABE
  • Xylitol
  • Energy transfer
  • Value-added products
  • Profit
  • Net present value