Bioethanol production from forestry residues: A comparative techno-economic analysis

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Abstract

A techno-economic analysis was conducted to assess the feasibility of using forestry residues with different bark contents for bioethanol production. A proposed cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Sweden was simulated with Aspen Plus. The plant was assumed to convert different forestry assortments (sawdust and shavings, fuel logs, early thinnings, tops and branches, hog fuel and pulpwood) to ethanol, pellets, biogas and electricity. The intention was not to obtain absolute ethanol production costs for future facilities, but to assess and compare the future potential of utilizing different forestry residues for bioethanol production. The same plant design and operating conditions were assumed in all cases, and the effect of including bark on the whole conversion process, especially how it influenced the ethanol production cost, was studied. While the energy efficiency (not including district heating) obtained for the whole process was between 67 and 69% regardless of the raw material used, the ethanol production cost differed considerably; the minimum ethanol selling price ranging from 0.77 to 1.52 USD/L. Under the basic assumptions, all the forestry residues apart from sawdust and shavings exhibited a negative net present value at current market prices. The profitability decreased with increasing bark content of the raw material. Sensitivity analyses showed that, at current market prices, the utilization of bark-containing forestry residues will not provide significant cost improvement compared with pulpwood unless the conversion of cellulose and hemicellulose to monomeric sugars is improved.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Renewable Bioenergy Research

Keywords

  • Bark, Bioethanol, Forestry residues, Softwood, Techno-economic evaluation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-736
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Energy
Volume184
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Dec 15
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes