Likely features and costs of mature biomass ethanol technology
Likely features and costs of mature biomass ethanol technology Analysis is undertaken motivated by the question: What are the likely features and cost of a facility producing ethanol from cellulosic biomass at a level of maturity comparable to a refinery? This question is considered with respect to cost reductions arising from increased scale, lower-cost feedstock, and process improvements in pretreatment and biological conversion, but not other process steps. An advanced technology scenario is developed that represents our estimate of the most likely features of mature biomass ethanol technology. A best-parameter scenario, intended to be indicative of the potential for R&D-driven cost reductions, is also developed based on the best values for individual process parameters reported in the literature. Both scenarios involve large plants. Feedstock costs are taken to be $38.60/delivered dry t for the advanced scenario and $34.00/delivered dry t for the best-parameter scenario. Projected selling prices, including operating costs and capital recovery corresponding to a 14.2% return on investment, are 50 cents/gal for the advanced technology case and 34 cents/gal for the best-parameter case. These are markedly lower than the 118 cents/gal selling price projected for base-case technology, with the largest share of cost reductions due to improved conversion technology. Key conversion technology improvements include, in order of more »
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