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Title: Technical Performance and Economic Evaluation of Evaporative and Membrane-Based Concentration for Biomass-Derived Sugars

Several conversion pathways of lignocellulosic biomass to advanced biofuels require or benefit from using concentrated sugar syrups of 600 g/L or greater. And while concentration may seem straightforward, thermal sugar degradation and energy efficiency remain major concerns. This study evaluated the trade-offs in product recovery, energy consumption, and economics between evaporative and membrane-based concentration methods. The degradation kinetics of xylose and glucose were characterized and applied to an evaporator process simulation. Though significant sugar loss was predicted for certain scenarios due to the Maillard reaction, industrially common falling-film plate evaporators offer short residence times (<5 min) and are expected to limit sugar losses. Membrane concentration experiments characterized flux and sugar rejection, but diminished flux occurred at >100 g/L. A second step using evaporation is necessary to achieve target concentrations. Techno-economic process model simulations evaluated the overall economics of concentrating a 35 g/L sugar stream to 600 g/L in a full-scale biorefinery. A two-step approach of preconcentrating using membranes and finishing with an evaporator consumed less energy than evaporation alone but was more expensive because of high capital expenses of the membrane units.
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0888-5885; TRN: US1702974
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 56; Journal Issue: 40; Journal ID: ISSN 0888-5885
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Research Org:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States
09 BIOMASS FUELS; sugar concentration; membrane separation; evaporation; glucose xylose degradation kinetics
OSTI Identifier: