Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 10

Biorefinery Related Abstracts

10 Optimization of Diluted Organic Acid Pretreatment on Rice Straw Using Response Surface Methodology

Authors: Rotchanaphan Hengaroonprasan, Malinee Sriariyanun, Prapakorn Tantayotai, Supacharee Roddecha, Kraipat Cheenkachorn


Lignocellolusic material is a substance that is resistant to be degraded by microorganisms or hydrolysis enzymes. To be used as materials for biofuel production, it needs pretreatment process to improve efficiency of hydrolysis. In this work, chemical pretreatments on rice straw using three diluted organic acids, including acetic acid, citric acid, oxalic acid, were optimized. Using Response Surface Methodology (RSM), the effect of three pretreatment parameters, acid concentration, treatment time, and reaction temperature, on pretreatment efficiency were statistically evaluated. The results indicated that dilute oxalic acid pretreatment led to the highest enhancement of enzymatic saccharification by commercial cellulase and yielded sugar up to 10.67 mg/ml when using 5.04% oxalic acid at 137.11 oC for 30.01 min. Compared to other acid pretreatment by acetic acid, citric acid, and hydrochloric acid, the maximum sugar yields are 7.07, 6.30, and 8.53 mg/ml, respectively. Here, it was demonstrated that organic acids can be used for pretreatment of lignocellulosic materials to enhance of hydrolysis process, which could be integrated to other applications for various biorefinery processes.

Keywords: Biorefinery, Pretreatment, lignocellolusic biomass, organic acid response surface methodology

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9 Biorefinery as Extension to Sugar Mills: Sustainability and Social Upliftment in the Green Economy

Authors: Asfaw Gezae Daful, Mohsen Alimandagari, Kathleen Haigh, Somayeh Farzad, Eugene Van Rensburg, Johann F. Görgens


The sugar industry has to 're-invent' itself to ensure long-term economic survival and opportunities for job creation and enhanced community-level impacts, given increasing pressure from fluctuating and low global sugar prices, increasing energy prices and sustainability demands. We propose biorefineries for re-vitalisation of the sugar industry using low value lignocellulosic biomass (sugarcane bagasse, leaves, and tops) annexed to existing sugar mills, producing a spectrum of high value platform chemicals along with biofuel, bioenergy, and electricity. Opportunity is presented for greener products, to mitigate climate change and overcome economic challenges. Xylose from labile hemicellulose remains largely underutilized and the conversion to value-add products a major challenge. Insight is required on pretreatment and/or extraction to optimize production of cellulosic ethanol together with lactic acid, furfural or biopolymers from sugarcane bagasse, leaves, and tops. Experimental conditions for alkaline and pressurized hot water extraction dilute acid and steam explosion pretreatment of sugarcane bagasse and harvest residues were investigated to serve as a basis for developing various process scenarios under a sugarcane biorefinery scheme. Dilute acid and steam explosion pretreatment were optimized for maximum hemicellulose recovery, combined sugar yield and solids digestibility. An optimal range of conditions for alkaline and liquid hot water extraction of hemicellulosic biopolymers, as well as conditions for acceptable enzymatic digestibility of the solid residue, after such extraction was established. Using data from the above, a series of energy efficient biorefinery scenarios are under development and modeled using Aspen Plus® software, to simulate potential factories to better understand the biorefinery processes and estimate the CAPEX and OPEX, environmental impacts, and overall viability. Rigorous and detailed sustainability assessment methodology was formulated to address all pillars of sustainability. This work is ongoing and to date, models have been developed for some of the processes which can ultimately be combined into biorefinery scenarios. This will allow systematic comparison of a series of biorefinery scenarios to assess the potential to reduce negative impacts on and maximize the benefits of social, economic, and environmental factors on a lifecycle basis.

Keywords: biomass, Sustainability, Biorefinery, Green Economy

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8 Biorefinery Annexed to South African Sugar Mill: Energy Sufficiency Analysis

Authors: S. Farzad, M. Ali Mandegari, J. F. Görgens


The South African Sugar Industry, which has a significant impact on the national economy, is currently facing problems due to increasing energy price and low global sugar price. The available bagasse is already combusted in low-efficiency boilers of the sugar mills while bagasse is generally recognized as a promising feedstock for second generation bioethanol production. Establishment of biorefinery annexed to the existing sugar mills, as an alternative for the revitalization of sugar industry producing biofuel and electricity has been proposed and considered in this study. Since the scale is an important issue in the feasibility of the technology, this study has taken into account a typical sugar mill with 300 ton/hr sugar cane capacity. The biorefinery simulation is carried out using Aspen PlusTM V8.6, in which the sugar mill’s power and steam demand has been considered. Hence, sugar mills in South Africa can be categorized as highly efficient, efficient, and not efficient with steam consumption of 33, 40, and 60 tons of steam per ton of cane and electric power demand of 10 MW; three different scenarios are studied. The sugar cane bagasse and tops/trash are supplied to the biorefinery process and the wastes/residues (mostly lignin) from the process are burnt in the CHP plant in order to produce steam and electricity for the biorefinery and sugar mill as well. Considering the efficient sugar mill, the CHP plant has generated 5 MW surplus electric powers, but the obtained energy is not enough for self-sufficiency of the plant (Biorefinery and Sugar mill) due to lack of 34 MW heat. One of the advantages of second generation biorefinery is its low impact on the environment and carbon footprint, thus the plant should be self-sufficient in energy without using fossil fuels. For this reason, a portion of fresh bagasse should be sent to the CHP plant to meet the energy requirements. An optimization procedure was carried out to find out the appropriate portion to be burnt in the combustor. As a result, 20% of the bagasse is re-routed to the combustor which leads to 5 tons of LP Steam and 8.6 MW electric power surpluses.

Keywords: Biorefinery, Energy Analysis, Bioethanol, sugarcane bagasse, sugar mill

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7 Self-Energy Sufficiency Assessment of the Biorefinery Annexed to a Typical South African Sugar Mill

Authors: M. Ali Mandegari, S. Farzad, , J. F. Görgens


Sugar is one of the main agricultural industries in South Africa and approximately livelihoods of one million South Africans are indirectly dependent on sugar industry which is economically struggling with some problems and should re-invent in order to ensure a long-term sustainability. Second generation biorefinery is defined as a process to use waste fibrous for the production of biofuel, chemicals animal food, and electricity. Bioethanol is by far the most widely used biofuel for transportation worldwide and many challenges in front of bioethanol production were solved. Biorefinery annexed to the existing sugar mill for production of bioethanol and electricity is proposed to sugar industry and is addressed in this study. Since flowsheet development is the key element of the bioethanol process, in this work, a biorefinery (bioethanol and electricity production) annexed to a typical South African sugar mill considering 65ton/h dry sugarcane bagasse and tops/trash as feedstock was simulated. Aspen PlusTM V8.6 was applied as simulator and realistic simulation development approach was followed to reflect the practical behaviour of the plant. Latest results of other researches considering pretreatment, hydrolysis, fermentation, enzyme production, bioethanol production and other supplementary units such as evaporation, water treatment, boiler, and steam/electricity generation units were adopted to establish a comprehensive biorefinery simulation. Steam explosion with SO2 was selected for pretreatment due to minimum inhibitor production and simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) configuration was adopted for enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation of cellulose and hydrolyze. Bioethanol purification was simulated by two distillation columns with side stream and fuel grade bioethanol (99.5%) was achieved using molecular sieve in order to minimize the capital and operating costs. Also boiler and steam/power generation were completed using industrial design data. Results indicates that the annexed biorefinery can be self-energy sufficient when 35% of feedstock (tops/trash) bypass the biorefinery process and directly be loaded to the boiler to produce sufficient steam and power for sugar mill and biorefinery plant.

Keywords: Biorefinery, Electricity, Bioethanol, self-energy sufficiency, tops/trash

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6 Comparative Techno-Economic Assessment and LCA of Selected Integrated Sugarcane-Based Biorefineries

Authors: Edgard Gnansounoua, Pavel Vaskan, Elia Ruiz Pachón


This work addresses the economic and environmental performance of integrated biorefineries based on sugarcane juice and residues in the context of Brazil. We have considered four multiproduct scenarios; two from existing Brazilian sugar mills and the others from ethanol autonomous distilleries. They are integrated biorefineries producing first (1G) and second (2G) generation ethanol, sugar, molasses (for animal feed) and electricity. We show the results for the analysis and comparison of the different scenarios using a techno-economic value-based approach and LCA methodology. We have found that all the analysed scenarios show positive values of Climate change and Fossil depletion reduction as compared to the reference systems. However the scenario producing only ethanol shows less efficiency in Human toxicity, Freshwater ecotoxicity and Freshwater eutrophication impacts. The best economic configuration is provided by the scenario with the largest ethanol production. On the other hand, the best environmental performance is presented by the scenario with full integration sugar – 1G2G ethanol production. The integration of 2G based residues in a 1G ethanol production plant leads to positive environmental impacts compared to the conventional 1G industrial plant but proves to be more expensive.

Keywords: Biorefinery, sugarcane, Brazil, LCA

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5 Lignin Valorization: Techno-Economic Analysis of Three Lignin Conversion Routes

Authors: Iris Vural Gursel, Andrea Ramirez


Effective utilization of lignin is an important mean for developing economically profitable biorefineries. Current literature suggests that large amounts of lignin will become available in second generation biorefineries. New conversion technologies will, therefore, be needed to carry lignin transformation well beyond combustion to produce energy, but towards high-value products such as chemicals and transportation fuels. In recent years, significant progress on catalysis has been made to improve transformation of lignin, and new catalytic processes are emerging. In this work, a techno-economic assessment of two of these novel conversion routes and comparison with more established lignin pyrolysis route were made. The aim is to provide insights into the potential performance and potential hotspots in order to guide the experimental research and ease the commercialization by early identifying cost drivers, strengths, and challenges. The lignin conversion routes selected for detailed assessment were: (non-catalytic) lignin pyrolysis as the benchmark, direct hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) of lignin and hydrothermal lignin depolymerisation. Products generated were mixed oxygenated aromatic monomers (MOAMON), light organics, heavy organics, and char. For the technical assessment, a basis design followed by process modelling in Aspen was done using experimental yields. A design capacity of 200 kt/year lignin feed was chosen that is equivalent to a 1 Mt/y scale lignocellulosic biorefinery. The downstream equipment was modelled to achieve the separation of the product streams defined. For determining external utility requirement, heat integration was considered and when possible gasses were combusted to cover heating demand. The models made were used in generating necessary data on material and energy flows. Next, an economic assessment was carried out by estimating operating and capital costs. Return on investment (ROI) and payback period (PBP) were used as indicators. The results of the process modelling indicate that series of separation steps are required. The downstream processing was found especially demanding in the hydrothermal upgrading process due to the presence of significant amount of unconverted lignin (34%) and water. Also, external utility requirements were found to be high. Due to the complex separations, hydrothermal upgrading process showed the highest capital cost (50 M€ more than benchmark). Whereas operating costs were found the highest for the direct HDO process (20 M€/year more than benchmark) due to the use of hydrogen. Because of high yields to valuable heavy organics (32%) and MOAMON (24%), direct HDO process showed the highest ROI (12%) and the shortest PBP (5 years). This process is found feasible with a positive net present value. However, it is very sensitive to the prices used in the calculation. The assessments at this stage are associated with large uncertainties. Nevertheless, they are useful for comparing alternatives and identifying whether a certain process should be given further consideration. Among the three processes investigated here, the direct HDO process was seen to be the most promising.

Keywords: Process Design, Biorefinery, economic assessment, lignin conversion

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4 Advanced Bio-Fuels for Biorefineries: Incorporation of Waste Tires and Calcium-Based Catalysts to the Pyrolysis of Biomass

Authors: Alberto Veses, Olga Sanhauja, María Soledad Callén, Tomás García


The appropriate use of renewable sources emerges as a decisive point to minimize the environmental impact caused by fossil fuels use. Particularly, the use of lignocellulosic biomass becomes one of the best promising alternatives since it is the only carbon-containing renewable source that can produce bioproducts similar to fossil fuels and it does not compete with food market. Among all the processes that can valorize lignocellulosic biomass, pyrolysis is an attractive alternative because it is the only thermochemical process that can produce a liquid biofuel (bio-oil) in a simple way and solid and gas fractions that can be used as energy sources to support the process. However, in order to incorporate bio-oils in current infrastructures and further process in future biorefineries, their quality needs to be improved. Introducing different low-cost catalysts and/or incorporating different polymer residues to the process are some of the new, simple and low-cost strategies that allow the user to directly obtain advanced bio-oils to be used in future biorefineries in an economic way. In this manner, from previous thermogravimetric analyses, local agricultural wastes such as grape seeds (GS) were selected as lignocellulosic biomass while, waste tires (WT) were selected as polymer residue. On the other hand, CaO was selected as low-cost catalyst based on previous experiences by the group. To reach this aim, a specially-designed fixed bed reactor using N₂ as a carrier gas was used. This reactor has the peculiarity to incorporate a vertical mobile liner that allows the user to introduce the feedstock in the oven once the selected temperature (550 ºC) is reached, ensuring higher heating rates needed for the process. Obtaining a well-defined phase distribution in the resulting bio-oil is crucial to ensure the viability to the process. Thus, once experiments were carried out, not only a well-defined two layers was observed introducing several mixtures (reaching values up to 40 wt.% of WT) but also, an upgraded organic phase, which is the one considered to be processed in further biorefineries. Radical interactions between GS and WT released during the pyrolysis process and dehydration reactions enhanced by CaO can promote the formation of better-quality bio-oils. The latter was reflected in a reduction of water and oxygen content of bio-oil and hence, a substantial increase of its heating value and its stability. Moreover, not only sulphur content was reduced from solely WT pyrolysis but also potential and negative issues related to a strong acidic environment of conventional bio-oils were minimized due to its basic pH and lower total acid numbers. Therefore, acidic compounds obtained in the pyrolysis such as CO₂-like substances can react with the CaO and minimize acidic problems related to lignocellulosic bio-oils. Moreover, this CO₂ capture promotes H₂ production from water gas shift reaction favoring hydrogen-transfer reactions, improving the final quality of the bio-oil. These results show the great potential of grapes seeds to carry out the catalytic co-pyrolysis process with different plastic residues in order to produce a liquid bio-oil that can be considered as a high-quality renewable vector.

Keywords: Biorefinery, Lignocellulosic Biomass, advanced bio-oils, catalytic co-pyrolysis of biomass and waste tires

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3 Techno-Economic Analysis of 1,3-Butadiene and ε-Caprolactam Production from C6 Sugars

Authors: Iris Vural Gursel, Jonathan Moncada, Ernst Worrell, Andrea Ramirez


In order to achieve the transition from a fossil to bio-based economy, biomass needs to replace fossil resources in meeting the world’s energy and chemical needs. This calls for development of biorefinery systems allowing cost-efficient conversion of biomass to chemicals. In biorefinery systems, feedstock is converted to key intermediates called platforms which are converted to wide range of marketable products. The C6 sugars platform stands out due to its unique versatility as precursor for multiple valuable products. Among the different potential routes from C6 sugars to bio-based chemicals, 1,3-butadiene and ε-caprolactam appear to be of great interest. Butadiene is an important chemical for the production of synthetic rubbers, while caprolactam is used in production of nylon-6. In this study, ex-ante techno-economic performance of 1,3-butadiene and ε-caprolactam routes from C6 sugars were assessed. The aim is to provide insight from an early stage of development into the potential of these new technologies, and the bottlenecks and key cost-drivers. Two cases for each product line were analyzed to take into consideration the effect of possible changes on the overall performance of both butadiene and caprolactam production. Conceptual process design for the processes was developed using Aspen Plus based on currently available data from laboratory experiments. Then, operating and capital costs were estimated and an economic assessment was carried out using Net Present Value (NPV) as indicator. Finally, sensitivity analyses on processing capacity and prices was done to take into account possible variations. Results indicate that both processes perform similarly from an energy intensity point of view ranging between 34-50 MJ per kg of main product. However, in terms of processing yield (kg of product per kg of C6 sugar), caprolactam shows higher yield by a factor 1.6-3.6 compared to butadiene. For butadiene production, with the economic parameters used in this study, for both cases studied, a negative NPV (-642 and -647 M€) was attained indicating economic infeasibility. For the caprolactam production, one of the cases also showed economic infeasibility (-229 M€), but the case with the higher caprolactam yield resulted in a positive NPV (67 M€). Sensitivity analysis indicated that the economic performance of caprolactam production can be improved with the increase in capacity (higher C6 sugars intake) reflecting benefits of the economies of scale. Furthermore, humins valorization for heat and power production was considered and found to have a positive effect. Butadiene production was found sensitive to the price of feedstock C6 sugars and product butadiene. However, even at 100% variation of the two parameters, butadiene production remained economically infeasible. Overall, the caprolactam production line shows higher economic potential in comparison to that of butadiene. The results are useful in guiding experimental research and providing direction for further development of bio-based chemicals.

Keywords: Biorefinery, Bio-based chemicals, Process Modelling, Economic analysis, C6 sugars

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2 High Purity Lignin for Asphalt Applications: Using the Dawn Technology™ Wood Fractionation Process

Authors: Ed de Jong


Avantium is a leading technology development company and a frontrunner in renewable chemistry. Avantium develops disruptive technologies that enable the production of sustainable high value products from renewable materials and actively seek out collaborations and partnerships with like-minded companies and academic institutions globally, to speed up introductions of chemical innovations in the marketplace. In addition, Avantium helps companies to accelerate their catalysis R&D to improve efficiencies and deliver increased sustainability, growth, and profits, by providing proprietary systems and services to this regard. Many chemical building blocks and materials can be produced from biomass, nowadays mainly from 1st generation based carbohydrates, but potential for competition with the human food chain leads brand-owners to look for strategies to transition from 1st to 2nd generation feedstock. The use of non-edible lignocellulosic feedstock is an equally attractive source to produce chemical intermediates and an important part of the solution addressing these global issues (Paris targets). Avantium’s Dawn Technology™ separates the glucose, mixed sugars, and lignin available in non-food agricultural and forestry residues such as wood chips, wheat straw, bagasse, empty fruit bunches or corn stover. The resulting very pure lignin is dense in energy and can be used for energy generation. However, such a material might preferably be deployed in higher added value applications. Bitumen, which is fossil based, are mostly used for paving applications. Traditional hot mix asphalt emits large quantities of the GHG’s CO₂, CH₄, and N₂O, which is unfavorable for obvious environmental reasons. Another challenge for the bitumen industry is that the petrochemical industry is becoming more and more efficient in breaking down higher chain hydrocarbons to lower chain hydrocarbons with higher added value than bitumen. This has a negative effect on the availability of bitumen. The asphalt market, as well as governments, are looking for alternatives with higher sustainability in terms of GHG emission. The usage of alternative sustainable binders, which can (partly) replace the bitumen, contributes to reduce GHG emissions and at the same time broadens the availability of binders. As lignin is a major component (around 25-30%) of lignocellulosic material, which includes terrestrial plants (e.g., trees, bushes, and grass) and agricultural residues (e.g., empty fruit bunches, corn stover, sugarcane bagasse, straw, etc.), it is globally highly available. The chemical structure shows resemblance with the structure of bitumen and could, therefore, be used as an alternative for bitumen in applications like roofing or asphalt. Applications such as the use of lignin in asphalt need both fundamental research as well as practical proof under relevant use conditions. From a fundamental point of view, rheological aspects, as well as mixing, are key criteria. From a practical point of view, behavior in real road conditions is key (how easy can the asphalt be prepared, how easy can it be applied on the road, what is the durability, etc.). The paper will discuss the fundamentals of the use of lignin as bitumen replacement as well as the status of the different demonstration projects in Europe using lignin as a partial bitumen replacement in asphalts and will especially present the results of using Dawn Technology™ lignin as partial replacement of bitumen.

Keywords: Sustainability, Biorefinery, Asphalt, Bitumen, Lignin, wood fractionation

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1 Laboratory Scale Production of Bio-Based Chemicals from Industrial Waste Feedstock in South Africa

Authors: P. Mandree, S. O. Ramchuran, F. O'Brien, L. Sethunya, S. Khumalo


South Africa is identified as one of the five emerging waste management markets, globally. The waste sector in South Africa influences the areas of energy, water and food at an economic and social level. Recently, South African industries have focused on waste valorization and diversification of the current product offerings in an attempt to reduce industrial waste, target a zero waste-to-landfill initiative and recover energy. South Africa has a number of waste streams including industrial and agricultural biomass, municipal waste and marine waste. Large volumes of agricultural and forestry residues, in particular, are generated which provides significant opportunity for production of bio-based fuels and chemicals. This could directly impact development of a rural economy. One of the largest agricultural industries is the sugar industry, which contributes significantly to the country’s economy and job creation. However, the sugar industry is facing challenges due to fluctuations in sugar prices, increasing competition with low-cost global sugar producers, increasing energy and agricultural input costs, lower consumption and aging facilities. This study is aimed at technology development for the production of various bio-based chemicals using feedstock from the sugar refining process. Various indigenous bacteria and yeast species were assessed for the potential to produce platform chemicals in flask studies and at 30 L fermentation scale. Quantitative analysis of targeted bio-based chemicals was performed using either gas chromatography or high pressure liquid chromatography to assess production yields and techno-economics in order to compare performance to current commercial benchmark processes. The study also creates a decision platform for the research direction that is required for strain development using Industrial Synthetic Biology.

Keywords: Biorefinery, Bio-based chemicals, Waste Valorization, industrial synthetic biology

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