Environmental, Health, and Safety Concerns

Thursday, June 13, 2013, 10:30am-12:00pm CDT

Session Chair & Co-Chair:

Session Description:

Environmental, Safety and Health (EHS) issues should not be an afterthought when developers attempt to move a process from the bench scale to commercial scale. EHS considerations need to be factored into this process from the very beginning in order to ensure that processes are as inherently green and safe as possible. This session will explore methodologies and approaches used to ensure that EHS considerations are an integral part of the scale-up process. Both the challenges and opportunities posed by this early consideration will be described.


Design of Sustainable Energy Supply Chains using the P-Graph Methodology Employing Multiple Metric CriteriaHeriberto Cabezas, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Thinking Outside the Barrel for BiofuelsDiana Matonis, Flucomp Enterprises, Inc.
Lessons Learned in Forest Biorefinery Pilot Trials in MaineHemant Pendse, Forest Bioproducts Research Institute, University of Maine

Design of Sustainable Energy Supply Chains using the P-Graph Methodology Employing Multiple Metric Criteria

Heriberto Cabezas, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

A novel method for designing sustainable supply chains based on optimization using the P-graph framework involving multiple integrated sustainability indicators and engineering cost has been proposed by a collaboration consisting of the Office of Research and Development (ORD) of the U.S. EPA and the research group led by the founders of the P-graph framework at the University of Pannonia. From this collaboration, a powerful methodology for designing cost-effective and environmentally sustainable supply chains was constructed. Illustrating the methodology with a prototype supply chain designed to produce heat and electricity for a generic district in Hungary, possible sources of heat and electricity included electricity from the Hungarian grid, and heat and electricity generated from natural gas, corn, corn silage, grass silage, or wood or some combination of these sources. Because available land and energy resources that support a supply chain are finite, we used integrated metrics such as the ecological footprint and emergy in the design and scale-up of sustainable supply chains so the demands of supply chain operations are connected to the capacity of the supporting environment. Results included twenty-one different supply chains, each capable of producing 18 TJ per year of heat and 7.2 TJ per year of electricity. Each supply chain was ranked according to cost, and assessed environmental impacts based upon ecological footprint (representing land use burden), and emergy (representing energy resource burden) calculations. From the cost perspective, feasible supply chains were determined with cost variations of +2% to -17% compared to “business as usual” scenarios, i.e. using only natural gas and electricity from the Hungarian grid. From the environmental impact assessments, the sustainability profiles as represented by the ecological footprint varied from +8% to -78%, and the emergy results ranged from -54% to -93%.  The environmental impact profiles were also contrasted to the conventional natural gas/electricity profiles, and  it appeared feasible to design supply chains for heat and electricity generation that were both cheaper and more sustainable than the supply chain currently in use.  While the illustration focused on an energy supply chain, the method is applicable to any industrial supply chain, along with possibly additional metrics. 

Thinking Outside the Barrel for Biofuels

Diana Matonis, Flucomp Enterprises, Inc.

What everyone wants are solutions which are not only good for the planet, but also good for business and good for development. Technological innovation is seen as the best hope of delivering this.  The public sector and government jointly promote effective modalities for the development, application and diffusion of processes pertinent to climate change including the formulation of policies and programs for the effective transfer of environmentally sound technologies from lab conception to commercialization.  This has resulted in an acceleration of first and second generation biofuel lab research to demo to rapid commercial scale plants using cellulosic and other feedstocks to produce ethanol, biodiesel, biocrude, or electricity from biomass.   But like all our energy sources, there are certain biopower pathways that pose environmental and health risks. If these risks are not managed carefully, biomass for energy can be harvested at unsustainable rates, damage ecosystems, produce harmful air pollution, consume large amounts of water, and produce net greenhouse emissions.  In this presentation we will review these impacts and the drivers accelerating the scale-up to commercialization of bio-technology processes in the advanced biofuels market.

Lessons Learned in Forest Biorefinery Pilot Trials in Maine

Hemant Pendse, Forest Bioproducts Research Institute, University of Maine

A novel pre-pulping extraction technology uses an existing chemical stream (“green liquor”, available at all Kraft pulp mills) to recover hemicelluloses from hardwood chips prior to conventional sulfate pulping in order to produce bio-based chemicals. Instead of being degraded and burned as a part of black liquor, the hemicelluloses can be recovered on a commercial scale as a valuable renewable feedstock for biorefineries.  The green liquor extraction technology can (i) prevent pollution at its source by recovering hemicelluloses that would otherwise be wasted, (ii) improve energy efficiency by off-loading lime kiln fossil fuel demand, and (iii) use existing pulp mill facilities to create a new high-value, renewable chemical feedstock. The pre-pulping extraction process has been demonstrated at full commercial scale at the Old Town mill in Maine through over 800 hours of trials. Several million gallons of extract have been produced while maintaining quality pulp output. 
UMaine researchers had invented a process modification to the Kraft pulping process that allows recovery of hemicelluloses and acetic acid from hardwood chips at concentrations of commercial importance while minimizing degradation of wood fibers so they can be further processed into bleached hardwood pulp suitable for paper making and other uses.  This concept provided the basis for the wood extract based biorefinery studies.  This scale-up and mill trial collaboration is an excellent example of University-Industry activity focused on technology demonstration. 
This presentation deals with materials handling issues that are often not apparent at bench scale work but pose challenges up on scale-up. This presentation focuses on lessons learned in recent mill trials involving production of wood extracts and wood sugars.  Production of wood-derived fermentation ready sugars allows one to co-produce chemicals and fuels at pulp mills.  The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that evaluation of potential impacts of such mill conversion production to the environment be done, when federal funds are to be used.