Category Archives: Advances in Biorefineries

Scale-up of biorefinery operations

Biorefinery scale-up is a common approach to reducing costs by capital intensification. This approach has been proven in the fossil fuel industry where the average US coal plant generates over 227 gigawatts (in compari­son, the energy production rate of a 100 million gallon (379 million liter) per year ethanol plant is equivalent to about 280 megawatts). Although biorefineries can benefit […]

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Product substitution

The use of renewable feedstock is one of the cornerstones of modern green chemistry. Non-renewable fossil resources supply 86% of our energy and 96% of organic chemicals (Binder and Raines, 2009). But fossil resources are not renewed in a time interval relevant to our resource consumption: according to our actual consumption, the future petroleum production is unlikely to meet our […]

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Bioproducts from thermochemical biorefineries

Researchers have developed detailed TEAs for several biofuels including hydrogen, methanol, ethanol, mixed alcohols, Fischer-Tropsch liquids, and naphtha and diesel range blend stock fuels (Wright and Brown, 2007a). Biofuel synthesis pathways can be categorized by the feedstock intermediate, subsequent upgrading process, and type of biofuel output. Feedstock intermediates are classified here as the primary products from biomass torrefaction, pyrolysis, and […]

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From petro-refineries to bio-refineries

It is important to ensure that both the resource and the process technology used as well as the products made are environmentally acceptable. The twentieth century saw the development of processes designed for the production of energy and organic chemicals based on the oil refinery. The twenty-first century must see the development of similar processes based on the biorefinery. The […]

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Bioproducts from biochemical biorefineries

The biochemical pathway in general, and fermentation to ethanol in particular, have been employed in the US and Brazil for several decades, and its economics have been thoroughly investigated. TEAs are available for the production of ethanol from sugarcane; the production of ethanol from corn (starch); and the production of ethanol from lignocellulose. More advanced pathways such as the production […]

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Combination of TEA and LCA

Researchers are combining TEA with life cycle analysis (LCA) to provide a comprehensive evaluation of biorefinery technologies (Hill et al, 2006). These techniques share a symbiotic relationship in that they enhance findings from each discipline. TEA can quantify the economic costs associated with environmental impacts, and LCA determines the environmental effects related to TEA assumptions.

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Risk and uncertainty quantification

A major challenge for TEA and LCA studies is risk and uncertainty quantification. Industry employs economic risk, measured by indicators such as rate of return and net present value, to identify investment opportunities. Policy makers rely on LCA to estimate greenhouse gas emissions and resource use. Varying degrees of uncertainty underlie these measures. Therefore, research requires additional tools to understand […]

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