(11c) A Framework to Determine Economic Potential and Environmental Impact of Biorefineries

Sammons, Jr., N. E., Intramicron Inc.
Yuan, W., Auburn University
Eden, M. R., Auburn University
Aksoy, B., Alabama Center for Paper and Bioresource Engineering
Cullinan, H. T., Alabama Center for Paper and Bioresource Engineering

The integrated biorefinery has the opportunity to provide a strong, self-dependent, sustainable alternative for the production of bulk and fine chemicals, e.g. polymers, fiber composites and pharmaceuticals as well as energy, liquid fuels and hydrogen. Although most of the fundamental processing steps involved in biorefining are well-known, there is a need for a multidisciplinary methodology capable of evaluating the integrated processes in order to identify the optimal set of products and the best route for producing them. A myriad of products and production pathways are possible in this emerging field of biorefining, and the production path with maximum value and minimum environmental impact cannot be determined on heuristics alone. The complexity of the product allocation problem for such processing facilities demands a process systems engineering approach utilizing process integration and mathematical optimization techniques to ensure a targeted approach and serve as an interface between simulation work and experimental efforts. The objective of this work is to assist the bioprocessing industries in evaluating the profitability of different possible production routes and product portfolios while measuring and reducing environmental impact in order to increase the sustainability of the emerging field of biorefining. To meet these ends, a mathematical optimization based framework is being developed, which enables the inclusion of profitability measures and other techno-economic metrics along with process insights obtained from experimental as well as modeling and simulation studies.