(204a) Comparison of Several Indirect Liquefaction Pathways to Fuels and Co-Products Via Biomass Gasification and Synthesis

Phillips, S. D., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Dagle, R. A., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Dagle, V. L., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Jones, S. B., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Ramasamy, K. K., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Snowden-Swan, L. J., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Many pathways to convert biomass to fuels and chemicals have been proposed over the years. The economic evaluations of these processes are sensitive to the underlying assumptions and cost-basis year used to estimate production costs making it difficult to compare pathways on an equivalent basis. These differences are inevitable as new information is assimilated into process models and as cost assumptions, such as the cost of biomass, change to reflect the current understanding of the supply chain. Over the last several years, the Bioenergy Technology Office (BETO) of the US Department of Energy used a minimum fuel selling price (MFSP) target of $3 per gallon gasoline equivalent as a program objective to be achieved through research.
In petroleum refineries, the co-production of higher value chemicals is an important factor for achieving profitable margins for the overall refinery. As with refineries, co-products with values greater than transportation fuels can improve the economics of a biomass-to-fuel process if the trade-offs with increased production costs are acceptable. Recent techno-economic analyses of several processes to convert biomass to fuels and chemicals via gasification, synthesis, oligomerization and hydrogenation were compared using a common set of modeling assumptions for a cost-basis year of 2014. The analyses were done for state-of-technology and goal cases for process improvements that may be achievable through research. Butanol, 1,3-butadiene, isobutene, LPG, and ethylene were evaluated for their potential to decrease the minimum fuel selling price (MFSP) for gasoline and distillate fuels. The impact of co-products on the MFSP is highly dependent on their market value which can fluctuate significantly year over year. The results of the study showed that within the recent ranges of market prices for the chemical co-products, the MFSP target of $3/gge could be achieved in some cases when chemical market prices were in the upper end of the price ranges and with a relatively large proportion of co-products (up to 50% of total product).