(724a) Integrated Design, Analysis and Optimization of Chemical Production from Biomass Feedstocks Considering Process and Market Uncertainty | AIChE

(724a) Integrated Design, Analysis and Optimization of Chemical Production from Biomass Feedstocks Considering Process and Market Uncertainty


Athaley, A. - Presenter, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Ierapetritou, M., Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Abhay Athaley and Marianthi Ierapetritou

Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Rutgers - The State University of New Jersey

Biomass processing has been identified as a promising source of energy and high-value chemicals, which can reduce or even replace the use of fossil fuels. Bio-based products acceptance in the market depends on the economic competitiveness of the process involved as well as the total environmental effects compared to oil-based chemicals and products. Platform chemical derived from biomass provide notable opportunities to produce an array of derivatives to fulfill societal needs of organic chemicals and polymers. The idea of bio-refinery has been proposed utilizing different conversion technologies to produce multiple products by exploiting all the components in biomass. A bio-refinery, like a petroleum refinery, can benefit from the exploitation of different components in biomass to maximize the overall profit. Integration of different processes to produce chemicals and fuels by utilizing different components of biomass is difficult and is capital intensive[1]. Moreover, most of the processes proposed in the literature to transform biomass result in highly specialty chemicals, with limited demand in the current market or lead to intermediates that have to be processed further. Many groups have dealt with the techno-economic analysis and optimization of the product pathways for a multi-product refinery. Giuliano et al. and Geraili et al. incorporates a bio-refinery producing levulinic acid, ethanol and succinic acid which are specialty chemicals having low demand in the current market[2, 3]. Alonso at al. proposes a multi-product bio-refinery, which produces intermediate products such as furfural and cellulosic pulp that can be commercialized [1].

Our work focuses on development and design of economical and sustainable routes for the production of various chemicals using different process system engineering tools. Promising chemicals, synthesized from the components of biomass, and having high demand in market are identified. Utilizing biomass as raw material, a new hydrolysis process was developed and integrated with the production of p-Xylene[4, 5] with furfural and lignin as the by-product. Furfural is a promising platform compound, which produces high quality fuel and valuable chemicals. Furfural has been selected as one of the top 30 biomass derived platform compounds by the U.S. Department of Energy on the basis of several indicators such as the raw material, estimated processing cost, technical complexity, and market potential[6]. Promising chemicals such as Butadiene, Surfactants, Jet-fuels, Lubricants derived from furfural[7] are investigated and integrated into the bio-refinery. The lignin formed is most commonly used to produce electricity. Lignin is linked by a robust C-C and C-O bonds[8] and hence depolymerization can generate a complex mixture of compounds. A novel production path to produce pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) from biomass depolymerization at high purity and yield[9] is studied and incorporated.

For a multi-product process plant to enable the full utilization of resources, there is a lot of work in the literature focusing on bio-refinery optimization. Santibañez-Aguilar et al. consider the optimization of bio-refinery for multiple biomass and multiple products[10]. Sy et al.[11, 12] use similar approach and introduce the consideration of supply and demand uncertainties in their optimization problem. However, they do not consider process uncertainties which may delay or decrease the actual production of products. Ng et al.use similar framework for an optimization‐based web application for assessing biomass‐to‐fuels strategies based on the Biomass Utilization Superstructure (BUS) framework[13].

In this work, we are developing an approach to design an optimal configuration for the production of multiple high value chemicals and fuels taking into consideration fluctuations in demand and supply of different types of biomass resources and process uncertainties optimizing both economic and environmental metrics. Detailed process flowsheet has been developed using Aspen plus and tools such as techno-economic and life cycle analysis is carried out to determine the minimum selling price and environmental emissions and effects. We have also considered using different types of waste biomass such as potato peels in our bio-refinery to make it more profitable and sustainable. A surrogate representation of production cost is developed using detailed process simulations performed in ASPEN plus. This model is then integrated to a multi-objective optimization model to generate a pareto curve identifying optimal solutions for maximizing profit and minimizing carbon dioxide generation and water consumption. Robust optimization approach is used to determine the optimum configuration and capacity considering biomass supply, product demand and process uncertainties.


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  2. Giuliano, A., et al., Process Pathways Optimization for a Lignocellulosic Biorefinery Producing Levulinic Acid, Succinic Acid, and Ethanol. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 2016. 55(40): p. 10699-10717.
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