IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Techno-economic evaluation of thermo-chemical biomass-to-ethanol


  • He, Jie
  • Zhang, Wennan


Bio-ethanol has received considerable attention as a basic chemical and fuel additive. Bio-ethanol is presently produced from sugar/starch materials, but can also be produced from lignocellulosic biomass via hydrolysis-fermentation route or thermo-chemical route. In terms of thermo-chemical route, a few pilot plants ranging from 0.3 to 67Â MW have been built and operated for alcohols synthesis. However, commercial success has not been found. In order to realize cost-competitive commercial ethanol production from lignocellulosic biomass through thermo-chemical pathway, a techno-economic analysis needs to be done. In this paper, a thermo-chemical process is designed, simulated and optimized mainly with ASPEN Plus. The techno-economic assessment is made in terms of ethanol yield, synthesis selectivity, carbon and CO conversion efficiencies, and ethanol production cost. Calculated results show that major contributions to the production cost are from biomass feedstock and syngas cleaning. A biomass-to-ethanol plant should be built around 200Â MW. Cost-competitive ethanol production can be realized with efficient equipments, optimized operation, cost-effective syngas cleaning technology, inexpensive raw material with low pretreatment cost, high performance catalysts, off-gas and methanol recycling, optimal systematic configuration and heat integration, and high value byproduct.

Suggested Citation

  • He, Jie & Zhang, Wennan, 2011. "Techno-economic evaluation of thermo-chemical biomass-to-ethanol," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 88(4), pages 1224-1232, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:88:y:2011:i:4:p:1224-1232

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yu, Suiran & Tao, Jing, 2009. "Economic, energy and environmental evaluations of biomass-based fuel ethanol projects based on life cycle assessment and simulation," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 86(Supplemen), pages 178-188, November.
    2. Murphy, J.D. & McCarthy, K., 2005. "Ethanol production from energy crops and wastes for use as a transport fuel in Ireland," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 148-166, October.
    3. Qiu, Huanguang & Huang, Jikun & Yang, Jun & Rozelle, Scott & Zhang, Yuhua & Zhang, Yahui & Zhang, Yanli, 2010. "Bioethanol development in China and the potential impacts on its agricultural economy," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 76-83, January.
    4. Balat, Mustafa & Balat, Havva, 2009. "Recent trends in global production and utilization of bio-ethanol fuel," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 86(11), pages 2273-2282, November.
    5. Zheng, Yi & Pan, Zhongli & Zhang, Ruihong & Wang, Donghai, 2009. "Enzymatic saccharification of dilute acid pretreated saline crops for fermentable sugar production," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 86(11), pages 2459-2465, November.
    6. Eriksson, Gunnar & Kjellström, Björn, 2010. "Assessment of combined heat and power (CHP) integrated with wood-based ethanol production," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 3632-3641, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Jaggi, Vikas & Jayanti, S., 2013. "A conceptual model of a high-efficiency, stand-alone power unit based on a fuel cell stack with an integrated auto-thermal ethanol reformer," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 295-303.
    2. Zhu, Shengdong & Huang, Wenjing & Huang, Wangxiang & Wang, Ke & Chen, Qiming & Wu, Yuanxin, 2015. "Pretreatment of rice straw for ethanol production by a two-step process using dilute sulfuric acid and sulfomethylation reagent," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 190-196.
    3. repec:gam:jeners:v:8:y:2015:i:11:p:12795-12809:d:58712 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Peng, Huadong & Chen, Hongzhang & Qu, Yongshui & Li, Hongqiang & Xu, Jian, 2014. "Bioconversion of different sizes of microcrystalline cellulose pretreated by microwave irradiation with/without NaOH," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 142-148.
    5. Dias, Marina O.S. & Junqueira, Tassia L. & Cavalett, Otávio & Pavanello, Lucas G. & Cunha, Marcelo P. & Jesus, Charles D.F. & Maciel Filho, Rubens & Bonomi, Antonio, 2013. "Biorefineries for the production of first and second generation ethanol and electricity from sugarcane," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 72-78.
    6. Palumbo, Aaron W. & Sorli, Jeni C. & Weimer, Alan W., 2015. "High temperature thermochemical processing of biomass and methane for high conversion and selectivity to H2-enriched syngas," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 13-24.
    7. Wennan Zhang & Jie He & Per Engstrand & Olof Björkqvist, 2015. "Economic Evaluation on Bio-Synthetic Natural Gas Production Integrated in a Thermomechanical Pulp Mill," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(11), pages 1-15, November.
    8. Fasahati, Peyman & Woo, Hee Chul & Liu, J. Jay, 2015. "Industrial-scale bioethanol production from brown algae: Effects of pretreatment processes on plant economics," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 175-187.
    9. Caspeta, Luis & Caro-Bermúdez, Mario A. & Ponce-Noyola, Teresa & Martinez, Alfredo, 2014. "Enzymatic hydrolysis at high-solids loadings for the conversion of agave bagasse to fuel ethanol," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 277-286.
    10. Varrone, C. & Liberatore, R. & Crescenzi, T. & Izzo, G. & Wang, A., 2013. "The valorization of glycerol: Economic assessment of an innovative process for the bioconversion of crude glycerol into ethanol and hydrogen," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 349-357.
    11. Sorda, Giovanni & Madlener, Reinhard, 2012. "Cost-Effectiveness of Lignocellulose Biorefineries and their Impact on the Deciduous Wood Markets in Germany," FCN Working Papers 8/2012, E.ON Energy Research Center, Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN).
    12. Byun, Jaewon & Han, Jeehoon, 2016. "Process synthesis and analysis for catalytic conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to fuels: Separate conversion of cellulose and hemicellulose using 2-sec-butylphenol (SBP) solvent," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 483-490.
    13. Chen, Hsing Hung & Lee, Amy H.I. & Chen, Silu, 2014. "Strategic policy to select suitable intermediaries for innovation to promote PV solar energy industry in China," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 429-437.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:88:y:2011:i:4:p:1224-1232. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.