Economic Analysis of an Organosolv Process for Bioethanol Production

Jesse Kautto, Matthew J. Realff, Arthur J. Ragauskas, Tuomo Kässi


In a previous paper, conceptual process design, simulation, and mass and energy balances were presented for an organosolv process with a hardwood feed of 2350 metric tons (MT) per day and ethanol, lignin, furfural, and acetic acid production rates of 459, 310, 6.6, and 30.3 MT/day, respectively. In this paper, the investment and operating costs of the process and the minimum ethanol selling price (MESP) to make the process economically feasible were estimated. The total capital investment of the plant was approximately 720 million USD. Lignin price was found to affect the MESP considerably. With a base case lignin price of 450 USD/MT, the MESP was approximately 3.1 USD per gallon (gal). Higher lignin price of 1000 USD/MT was required to equal the MESP with the December 2013 ethanol market price (2.0 USD/gal). In addition to lignin price, the MESP was found to be strongly affected by feedstock, enzyme, and investment costs. Variations in feedstock and investment costs affected the MESP by approximately 0.2 and 0.5 USD/gal, respectively. Changing the enzyme dosage and price from base case estimate of 5270 USD/MT and 0.02 g/g cellulose to more conservative 3700 USD/MT and 0.06 g/g cellulose, respectively, increased the MESP by 0.59 USD/gal.


Organosolv; Economic assessment; Pretreatment; Bioethanol; Lignin; Simulation

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