(523f) Economics of Pretreatment for Biological Processing | AIChE

(523f) Economics of Pretreatment for Biological Processing


Aden, A. - Presenter, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Elander, R. T. - Presenter, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Economics of Pretreatment for Biological Processing

Ling Tao1, Andy Aden1 and Richard T. Elander1

1 National
Renewable Energy Laboratory, 1617 Cole Blvd., Golden, CO 80401, USA


A broad understanding of pretreatment economics within an
overall conversion context will be presented.  The importance of pretreatment
in the overall economics of the biorefinery is addressed along with the key
parameters that influence the pretreatment economics.  A large array of
pretreatment technology options exist and are currently being researched and
developed in this study. There appear to be many performances and cost
tradeoffs for these varying technologies.  Only through continued R&D will
these tradeoffs be more fully understood. Process economics, especially the
promising pretreatment technologies studied in the Consortium for Applied
Fundamentals and Innovation (CAFI) projects, are analyzed and compared in
details in this work. The six pretreatment technologies vary greatly in terms
of their process design and projected total capital investment. Pretreatment
area capital costs are based on past research, existing databases and
engineering judgments, and include not only pretreatment reactor costs, but
also pretreatment chemical recovery and recycle equipment costs for the
processes that use high pretreatment chemical loadings. More accurate cost
estimates for each pretreatment process will require specific vendor quotations
based on pretreatment process conditions and any pretreatment chemical recovery
requirements. Overall ethanol yield, which is largely based on achieved overall
sugar yield achieved in pretreatment and subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis steps,
is one of the single-most important factors in determining projected ethanol
costs for each process. Many key variables and parameters can have significant
impact on the pretreatment economics.  While many are discussed within this talk,
continuing R&D will generate data that further guide the development of the
biomass conversion industry.