271272 Biomass and Natural Gas to Liquid Transportation Fuels (BGTL): Process Synthesis, Global Optimization, and Topology Analysis
Heavy dependence on petroleum and high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the production, distribution, and consumption of hydrocarbon fuels pose serious challenges for the United States transportation sector . Depletion of domestic petroleum sources combined with a volatile global oil market prompt the need to discover alternative fuel-producing technologies that utilize domestically abundant sources. A recent review highlights the single and hybrid feedstock design alternatives that can produce gasoline, diesel, and kerosene from coal, biomass, or natural gas . Biomass and natural gas are two domestic energy sources that have received considerable attention as feedstock candidates for processes that can generate synthetic liquid fuels. The combination of these two feedstocks offers an important advantage over single feedstock systems because the benefits of both natural gas (e.g., cheaper, large domestic reserves) and biomass (e.g., sustainable, reduces GHG emissions) can be harnessed in a hybrid refinery.
We present an optimization based framework to perform a comprehensive technoeconomic and environmental assessment of an alternative energy refinery that will convert biomass and natural gas to liquid fuels (BGTL). The framework will incorporate process design, global optimization, and process synthesis strategies [3-10] to determine the optimal plant design of a BGTL refinery under different scenarios (e.g., feedstock composition, plant capacity, liquid fuel type/composition, etc.). Using this framework, thousands of distinct process designs will be analyzed at once to determine the design that produces the liquid fuels in the most optimal way (i.e., lowest cost or highest profit). This superstructure of postulated topologies will include multiple components for biomass conversion, natural gas conversion, hydrocarbon production, and liquid fuels upgrading and will identify the economical and environmental tradeoffs between each component. A simultaneous heat, power, and water integration will be included in the optimization model to ensure that the cost of utility generation and wastewater treatment is adequately compared to the cost of producing the liquid fuels. Nine case studies are presented to investigate the effect of biomass type and plant capacity on the optimal process topology, total plant cost, and break-even oil price. The key topological decisions from the mathematical model along with the major components of the plant capital and operating costs will be discussed.
 National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and National Research
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