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Biotechnol Prog. 2003 Jul-Aug;19(4):1109-17.

Techno-economic evaluation of producing ethanol from softwood: comparison of SSF and SHF and identification of bottlenecks.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Lund University, P.O. Box 124, S-221 00 Lund, Sweden.


The aim of the study was to evaluate, from a technical and economic standpoint, the enzymatic processes involved in the production of fuel ethanol from softwood. Two base case configurations, one based on simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) and one based on separate hydrolysis and fermentation (SHF), were evaluated and compared. The process conditions selected were based mainly on laboratory data, and the processes were simulated by use of Aspen plus. The capital costs were estimated using the Icarus Process Evaluator. The ethanol production costs for the SSF and SHF base cases were 4.81 and 5.32 SEK/L or 0.57 and 0.63 USD/L (1 USD = 8.5SEK), respectively. The main reason for SSF being lower was that the capital cost was lower and the overall ethanol yield was higher. A major drawback of the SSF process is the problem with recirculation of yeast following the SSF step. Major economic improvements in both SSF and SHF could be achieved by increasing the income from the solid fuel coproduct. This is done by lowering the energy consumption in the process through running the enzymatic hydrolysis or the SSF step at a higher substrate concentration and by recycling the process streams. Running SSF with use of 8% rather than 5% nonsoluble solid material would result in a 19% decrease in production cost. If after distillation 60% of the stillage stream was recycled back to the SSF step, the production cost would be reduced by 14%. The cumulative effect of these various improvements was found to result in a production cost of 3.58 SEK/L (0.42 USD/L) for the SSF process.

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