The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is promoting the development of ethanol from lignocellulosic feedstocks as an alternative to conventional petroleum-based transportation fuels. DOE funds both fundamental and applied research in this area and needs a method for predicting cost benefits of many research proposals. To that end, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has modeled many potential process designs and estimated the economics of each process during the last 20 years. This report is an update of the ongoing process design and economic analyses at NREL. We envision updating this process design report at regular intervals; the purpose being to ensure that the process design incorporates all new data from NREL research, DOE funded research and other sources, and that the equipment costs are reasonable and consistent with good engineering practice for plants of this type. For the non-research areas this means using equipment and process approaches as they are currently used in industrial applications. For the last report 1, published in 1999, NREL performed a complete review and update of the process design and economic model for the biomass-to-ethanol process utilizing co-current dilute acid prehydrolysis with simultaneous saccharification (enzymatic) and co-fermentation. The process design included the core technologies being researched by the DOE: prehydrolysis, simultaneous saccharification and co-fermentation, and cellulase enzyme production. In addition, all ancillary areas feed handling, product recovery and purification, wastewater treatment (WWT), lignin combustor and boiler-turbogenerator and utilities were included. NREL engaged Delta-T Corporation (Delta-T) to assist in the process design evaluation, the process equipment costing, and overall plant integration. The process design and costing for the lignin combustor and boiler turbogenerator was reviewed by Reaction Engineering Inc.
Fertilizers used to increase the yield of crops used for food or bio-based products can migrate through the environment and potentially cause adverse environmental impacts. Nitrogen fertilizers have a complex biogeochemical cycle. Through their transformations and partitioning among environmental compartments, they can contribute to eutrophication of surface waters at local and regional scales, groundwater degradation, acid rain, and climate change. Phosphate fertilizers have a simpler fate in the environment, although leaching of soluble and bound phosphorus is an important contributor to eutrophication.