Combined production of biogas and ethanol at high solids loading from wheat straw impregnated with acetic acid: experimental study and techno-economic evaluation.

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Production of ethanol and biogas from acetic acid-impregnated steam-pretreated wheat straw was investigated. The solid fraction after pretreatment was used at high solids concentrations to generate ethanol by simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF). The residual streams were evaluated with regard to biogas production. The experimental results were used to perform a techno-economic evaluation of a biorefinery concerning ethanol, raw biogas, pellet, and electricity production at various solid contents and residence times in the fermentation step. The configurations were also altered to include biogas upgrading to vehicle fuel quality or fermentation of xylose to ethanol.
At a water-insoluble solids (WIS) content in the SSF of between 10 and 20 %, the ethanol yields exceeded 80 %, the highest being 86 % at 12.5 % WIS, expressed as % of the theoretical maximum, based on the glucan content in SSF. Anaerobic digestion of wheat straw hydrolysate and stillage yielded 4.8 and 1.0–1.2 g methane/100 g dry straw, respectively, in 7-day experiments. Maximum recovery of overall product was achieved when SSF was run at between 10 and 15 % initial WIS content, for which the product yields from 100 g dry wheat straw were 16.1–16.3 g ethanol, 5.8–6.0 g methane, and 25 g lignin-rich solid residue. The net present value (NPV) was negative at discount rate of 11 % but positive at 5 % discount rate for all configurations. The 20 % WIS configuration with a residence time of 96 h in the fermentation stage attained the highest NPV. The minimum ethanol selling price varied between 0.72 and 0.87 EUR/L ethanol when the biogas was unchanged and it decreased to between 0.46 and 0.60 EUR/L ethanol when the biogas was upgraded to vehicle fuel quality or when xylose was converted to ethanol.
According to the techno-economic assessment, a process that is based on the fermentation of only hexoses to ethanol, and production of raw biogas from xylose is not profitable under the economic assumptions including 11 % discount rate in the evaluation. However, the profitability of a plant can be improved by biogas upgrading to vehicle fuel quality or fermentation of xylose to ethanol.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Chemical Process Engineering
Original languageEnglish
JournalSustainable Chemical Processes
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch