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Bioresour Technol. 2008 Jul;99(11):5051-7. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2007.08.086. Epub 2008 Feb 21.

Production of ethanol from carbohydrates from loblolly pine: a technical and economic assessment.

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School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, IPST Building, 500, 10th Street NW, Atlanta, GA 303320620, United States.


Ethanol from lignocellulosic biomass has the potential to contribute substantially to bioethanol for transportation. We have evaluated the technical and economic feasibility of producing ethanol from the carbohydrates in loblolly pine. In the process evaluated, prehydrolysis with dilute sulfuric acid was employed to hydrolyze hemicellulose and make the cellulose more accessible to hydrolysis by enzymes. Residual biomass from hydrolysis and extraction of carbohydrates was burned in a CHP plant to generate power and process steam. Our analysis indicates that ethanol can be produced at a cost of dollars 1.53/gal, based on a delivered wood cost of $63.80/dry metric ton and 75% conversion of the carbohydrates in wood to sugars for ethanol production. Improving the conversion of wood carbohydrates to sugars to 95% would reduce the production cost to dollars 1.29/gal. These values are for a plant producing 74 million gal/yr and 93 million gal/yr, respectively. At current feedstock prices, ethanol produced from loblolly pine would be competitive with ethanol produced from corn or other lignocellulosic biomass. Based on our analysis, discounted cash flow rates of return would be 18% and 25%, respectively for plants of this capacity.

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