(548l) Techno-Economic Analysis of Biofuels Production Via Localized Fast Pyrolysis and Electrocatalytic Upgrading

Authors: 
Das, S., MSU
Saffron, C. M., Michigan State University
Based on the DOE’s projections made in their 2016 Billion-ton Report, the annual harvestable biomass in the U.S. (that can be produced at $60/ton or less) by the year 2040 is not sufficient to meet the annual energy demands of the U.S. transportation sector, in 2017. Therefore, for biofuels (derived from biomass) to be considered as a realistic alternative to fossil fuels, their energy content must be upgraded to match that of liquid hydrocarbons like gasoline and diesel. Biomass fast pyrolysis with electrocatalytic upgrading in regional depots, using renewable electricity, followed by further upgrading in central refineries, offers a pathway for the production of fuels with high energy density. To investigate the merits of this novel biofuel production strategy, a mass, energy, and carbon flow analysis was performed for the proposed system. These were compared to the traditional approach of cellulosic fermentation to ethanol, as described in NREL’s 2011 report. The comparative study revealed the advantage of the proposed process in terms of carbon and energy yields of the produced fuel. However, to implement the proposed bioenergy system on a large scale, it is important to thoroughly quantify the commercial potential of the process. Therefore, a techno-economic analysis (TEA) was performed for the proposed system, with the objective of determining the cost per gallon of the fuel produced. Sensitivity analyses were also performed to establish the key parameters that contribute to the overall cost of the fuel, and hence identify an economically optimized scenario for the proposed process.