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Title: Process Design and Economics for the Conversion of Lignocellulosic Biomass to Hydrocarbon Fuels: Thermochemical Research Pathways with In Situ and Ex Situ Upgrading of Fast Pyrolysis Vapors

This report was developed as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office’s efforts to enable the development of technologies for the production of infrastructure-compatible, cost-competitive liquid hydrocarbon fuels from biomass. Specifically, this report details two conceptual designs based on projected product yields and quality improvements via catalyst development and process integration. It is expected that these research improvements will be made within the 2022 timeframe. The two conversion pathways detailed are (1) in situ and (2) ex situ upgrading of vapors produced from the fast pyrolysis of biomass. While the base case conceptual designs and underlying assumptions outline performance metrics for feasibility, it should be noted that these are only two of many other possibilities in this area of research. Other promising process design options emerging from the research will be considered for future techno-economic analysis. Both the in situ and ex situ conceptual designs, using the underlying assumptions, project MFSPs of approximately $3.5/gallon gasoline equivalent (GGE). The performance assumptions for the ex situ process were more aggressive with higher distillate (diesel-range) products. This was based on an assumption that more favorable reaction chemistry (such as coupling) can be made possible in a separate reactor where, unlikemore » in an in situ upgrading reactor, one does not have to deal with catalyst mixing with biomass char and ash, which pose challenges to catalyst performance and maintenance. Natural gas was used for hydrogen production, but only when off gases from the process was not sufficient to meet the needs; natural gas consumption is insignificant in both the in situ and ex situ base cases. Heat produced from the burning of char, coke, and off-gases allows for the production of surplus electricity which is sold to the grid allowing a reduction of approximately 5¢/GGE in the MFSP.« less
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  1. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
  2. DWH Process Consulting, Denver, CO (United States)
  3. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  4. Harris Group, Inc., Seattle, WA (United States)
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
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Country of Publication:
United States