(304f) Nrel's Integrated Biorefinery Research Facility - Pilot Scale Solids Handling Risk Mitigation
To achieve commercial-scale production of cellulosic ethanol at a cost that is competitive with gasoline, it is crucial to understand the entire integrated biorefining process and how one stage of the process can impact performance of the others. With the addition of the Integrated Biorefinery Research Facility (IBRF) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the cellulosic ethanol industry will have access to a significantly expanded pilot plant and biochemical conversion process research facility. At NREL, the goal is to improve the cost effectiveness of cellulosic ethanol production processes to accelerate commercial scale deployment of these technologies. A number of aggressive government policies are guiding NREL's approach to cellulosic ethanol research and development, including the 2007 Energy and Independence and Security Act requiring 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022, and President Obama's New Energy for America Plan calling for 60 billion gallons of advanced biofuels by 2030. The IBRF's new integrated research and development and flexible process piloting capabilities will enable a wide variety of biofuels technology developers to reduce risks associated with scaling up to demonstration and full-commercial scales. Many of the risks to be mitigated are related to solids handling, which presents a variety of issues and challenges that the cellulosic ethanol industry must resolve to successfully transition the conversion technologies from pilot to demonstration scale and ultimately to commercial scale. Design considerations as well as lessons learned during facility commissioning and startup will be discussed.