Catalytic conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to fuels: Process development and technoeconomic evaluation
Levulinic acid (LA) has been identified as a platform chemical, which can be produced from lignocellulosic materials and transformed into liquid fuels, fuel additives and even other specialty chemicals. These conversions have been made possible through recent advances in heterogeneous catalysis. Taking advantage of novel chemistries and catalytic materials, we have developed a LA-based strategy to convert lignocellulosic biomass into liquid hydrocarbon fuels. To assess the economic potential of this approach, a process synthesis effort supported by detailed process simulation and capital/operational cost calculations has been undertaken. Furthermore, we study different feedstocks and perform sensitivity analysis studies for several process and economic parameters. Finally, we present the results of an energy efficiency analysis and discuss biomass transportation aspects. âº We develop a catalytic strategy for the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to liquid fuels. âº The new strategy compares favorably with existing lignocellulosic ethanol processes. âº The use of feedstocks rich in C6-carbohydrates is identified as a key aspect. âº Economic parameters and capital investment costs are the main economic drivers. âº Biomass logistics and costs are discussed to determine the maximum plant capacity.