277005 Synthesis of Biorefinery Systems for Lignocellulosic Biorenewables
Our society is actively looking for sustainable alternatives to meet the increasing energy and product demands. This is amid increasing concerns of global warming, fast depletion of petroleum resources, expected increase of the crude oil price due to rapid demand growth from China and India, and unstable oil supply due to turmoil in the Middle East. Although replacement of carbon-based economy is receiving a major research attention nowadays, mankind’s reliance on carbon will continue for the foreseeable future. As the only carbon-rich material source, biorenewables processed in biorefineries is very likely to be the only viable alternative to fossil resources for the production of transportation fuels and chemicals.
The attractive future prospects for biorefineries are accompanied by several unique and challenging characteristics. Such challenges mainly include supply chain design and management (decentralized raw material sources etc.), process design and development (lack of models etc.) and intelligent decision making (uncertainty in markets and prices etc.). Furthermore, in most scenarios, successful process synthesis strategies for conventional refineries do not work for biorefineries. Thus, biorefinery synthesis using advanced systems engineering approaches require substantial research to design and manage economically viable, environmentally benign, and socially beneficial biorefineries.
Kamm et al. (2006) highlight existing works relevant to process, raw material, product, and technology options. However, a study that integrates all these components using a modeling and optimization approach based on mathematical programming does not exist. Here, we aim to bridge this knowledge gap by systematically and intelligently evaluating all possible alternatives. In this paper, we explore and evaluate a variety of plausible and promising options for the conversion of cellulose, lignin, and C5 sugars into a slate of potential value-added chemicals using different technologies. We propose a novel superstructure of various alternative configurations for a general biorefinery. For this, we develop a general mathematical model based on short-cut equations to obtain the optimal design of a biorefinery. In addition, we examine a number of alternatives in the superstructure and cost factors such as operation cost, utility cost, capital expenditures (investments, overheads etc.), taxes and inflation rates for the entire lifetime of the biorefinery. Then, based on market scenarios, availability of lignocellulosic biorenewables, and available technologies, we present a reduced and dedicated biorefinery superstructure for Singapore. Finally, we illustrate sensitivity analysis and debottlenecking opportunities in biorefineries using several case studies.
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