Techno-economic analysis of biomass to transportation fuels and electricity via fast pyrolysis and hydroprocessing

Brown, Tristan
Hu, Guiping
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Hu, Guiping
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A previous Iowa State University (ISU) analysis published in 2010 investigated the technical and economic feasibility of the fast pyrolysis and hydroprocessing of biomass, and concluded that the pathway could produce cellulosic biofuels for a minimum fuel selling price (MFSP) of $2.11/gal. The 2010 ISU study was largely theoretical in that no commercial-scale fast pyrolysis facilities were being constructed at the time of publication.

The present analysis expands upon the 2010 ISU study by performing an updated techno-economic analysis of the fast pyrolysis and hydroprocessing pathway. Recent advances in pathway technology and commercialization and new parameters suggested by the recent literature are accounted for. The MFSP for a 2000 MTPD facility employing fast pyrolysis and hydroprocessing to convert corn stover to gasoline and diesel fuel is calculated to quantify the economic feasibility of the pathway.

The present analysis determines the MFSP of gasoline and diesel fuel produced via fast pyrolysis and hydroprocessing to be $2.57/gal. This result indicates that the pathway could be competitive with petroleum, although not as competitive as suggested by the 2010 ISU study. The present analysis also demonstrates the sensitivity of the result to process assumptions.


NOTICE: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Fuel. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently publishedin in Fuel, 106, April (2013): 463, doi: 10.1016/j.fuel.2012.11.029.

fast pyrolysis, hydroprocessing, catalytic pyrolysis, techno-economic analysis, Bioeconomy Institute, Mechanical Engineering