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Biotechnol Biofuels. 2016 Jan 4;9:1. doi: 10.1186/s13068-015-0423-8. eCollection 2016.

Techno-economic evaluation of integrated first- and second-generation ethanol production from grain and straw.

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1
Department of Chemical Engineering, Lund University, P.O. Box 124, 22100 Lund, Sweden.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Integration of first- and second-generation ethanol production can facilitate the introduction of second-generation lignocellulosic ethanol production. Consolidation of the second-generation with the first-generation process can potentially reduce the downstream processing cost for the second-generation process as well as providing the first-generation process with energy. This study presents novel experimental results from integrated first- and second-generation ethanol production from grain and wheat straw in a process development unit. The results were used in techno-economic evaluations to investigate the feasibility of the plant, in which the main co-products were distiller's dried grains with solubles and biogas.

RESULTS:

An overall glucose to ethanol yield, of 81 % of the theoretical, based on glucose available in the raw material, was achieved in the experiments. A positive net present value was found for all the base case scenarios and the minimal ethanol selling price varied between 0.45 and 0.53 EUR/L ethanol. The revenue increased with combined xylose and glucose fermentation and biogas upgrading to vehicle fuel quality. A decrease in the biogas yield from 80 to 60 % also largely affects the net present value. The energy efficiency for the energy content in products available for sale compared with the incoming energy content varied from 74 to 80 %.

CONCLUSIONS:

One of the two main configurations can be chosen when designing an integrated first- and second-generation ethanol production plant from grain and straw: that producing biogas or that producing distiller's dried grains with solubles from the xylose sugars. The choice depends mainly on the local market and prices for distiller's dried grains with solubles and biogas, since the prices for both co-products have fluctuated a great deal in recent years. In the current study, however, distiller's dried grains with solubles were found to be a more promising co-product than biogas, if the biogas was not upgraded to vehicle fuel quality. It was also concluded that additional experimental data from biogas production using first- and second-generation substrates are required to obtain improved economic evaluations.

KEYWORDS:

Biogas; Biorefinery; DDGS; Ethanol; First- and second-generation; Grain; Simulations; Straw; Techno-economic; Wheat

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