Comparisons of the technical, financial risk and life cycle assessments of various processing options of sugercane bagasse to biofuels in South Africa

Petersen, Abdul Muhaymin (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2012-03)

Thesis (MScEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2012

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Through many years of research, a number of production schemes have been developed for converting lignocellulosic biomass into transport fuels. These technologies have been assessed through a number of techno-economic studies for application in a particular context in terms of the technical and economic feasibility. However, previous studies using these methods have tended to lack vigour in various aspects. Either the energy efficiency of the processes were not maximised through adequate heat integration, or a competing technology which existed was not considered. From an economic perspective, the financial models would often lack the vigour to account for the risk and uncertainty that is inherent in the market prices of the commodities. This phenomenon is especially relevant for the biofuel industry that faces the full fledge of uncertainties experienced by the agricultural sector and the energy sector. Furthermore, from an environmental perspective, the techno-economic studies had often ignored the environmental impacts that are associated with biofuel production. Thus, a comparative study could have favoured an option due to its economic feasibility, while it could have had serious environmental consequences. The aim of this study was to address these issues in a South African context, where biofuels could be produced from sugarcane bagasse. The first step would be to modify an existing simulation model for a bioethanol scenario that operates with a Separate Hydrolysis and Fermentation (SHF process) configuration into a second processing scenario that operates with a Simultaneous Saccharification and Fermentation (SSF process) configuration using reliable experimental data. The second step was to ensure that the maximum energy efficiency of each scenario was realised by carrying out pinch point analysis as a heat integration step. In contrast to these biological models is the thermochemical model that converts bagasse to gasoline and diesel via gasification, Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and refining (GFT process). While there were no significant advances in technology concerning this type of process, the energy efficiency was to be maximised with pinch point analysis. The GFT process obtained the highest energy efficiency of 50.6%. Without the affects of pinch point technology, the efficiency dropped to 46%, which thus emphasises the importance of heat integration. The SSF had an efficiency of 42.8%, which was superior to that of the SHF at 39.3%. This resulted from a higher conversion of biomass to ethanol in the SSF scenario. Comparing the SHF model to an identical model found in literature that did not have pinch point retrofits, this study showed lower efficiency. This arose because the previous study did not account for the energy demands of the cold utility systems such as the cooling tower operation, which has been shown in this study to account for 40% of the electrical energy needs. The economic viability of all three processes was assessed with Monte Carlo Simulations to account for the risks that the fluctuations in commodity prices and financial indices pose. This was accomplished by projecting the fluctuations of these parameters from samples of a historical database that has been transformed into a probability distribution function. The consequences were measured in terms of the Net Present Value (NPV) and Internal Rate of Return (IRR) for a large number of simulations. The results of these variables were aggregated and were then assessed by testing the probability that the NPV<0, and that the IRR recedes below the interest rate of 12.64%. The investment was thus deemed unfeasible if these probabilities were greater than 20%. Both biological models were deemed profitable in terms of this standard. The probabilities were 13% for the SSF and 14% for the SHF. The GFT process however was deemed completely unfeasible because the probability that the NPV<0 was 78%. Given that the GFT process had the highest energy efficiency, this result arises mainly because the capital investment of 140,000USD/MWHHV of biomass energy input is to enormous for any payback to be expected. The environmental footprint of each process was measured using Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs). LCAs are a scientifically intricate way of quantifying and qualifying the effects of a product or process within a specified boundary. The impacts are assessed on a range of environmental issues, such as Global Warming, Acidification, Eutrophication and Human toxicity. Furthermore, if the project under concern has multiple output products, then the impacts are distributed between the output products in proportion to the revenue that each generates. The impacts were either relative to the flow of feedstock, which was 600MW of bagasse, or to the functional unit, which was the amount of fuel required to power a standard vehicle for a distance of 1 kilometre. In either case, the GFT scenario was the least burdening on the environmental. This was expected because the GFT process had the highest energy efficiency and the process itself lacked the use of processing chemicals. Relative to the feedstock flow, the SSF was the most environmentally burdening scenario due to the intensive use of processing chemicals. Relative to the functional unit, the SHF was the most severe due to its low energy efficiency. Thus, the following conclusions were drawn from the study:  The GFT is the most energy and environmentally efficient process, but it showed no sign of economic feasibility. iv  There is no significant difference in the economic and environmental evaluation of the SSF and SHF process, even though the SSF is considered to be a newer and more efficient process. The major cause of this is because the setup of the SSF model was not optimised.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Deur baie jare van navorsing is ‘n aantal produksie-skemas vir die omskakeling van lignosellulose biomassa na vloeibarebrandstof ontwikkel. Hierdie tegnologië is geassesseer ten opsigte van die tegniese en ekonomiese haalbaarheid deur middel van tegno-ekonomiese studies in bepaalde tekste. Tog het hierdie vorige studies besliste beperkings gehad. Of die energie-doeltreffendheid van die proses is nie gemaksimeer deur voldoende hitte-integrasie nie, of 'n mededingende tegnologie wat bestaan is nie oorweeg nie. Vanuit 'n ekonomiese perspektief, was die finansiële modelle dikwels nie die omvattend genoeg om rekening te hou met die risiko en onsekerheid wat inherent is in die markpryse van die kommoditeite nie. Hierdie verskynsel is veral relevant vir die biobrandstof bedryf wat die volle omvang van onsekerhede ervaar waaraan die landbousektor en die energiesektoronderhewig is. Verder het die tegno-ekonomiese studies dikwels die omgewingsimpakte wat verband hou met biobrandstofproduksie geïgnoreer. Dus kon ‘n opsie deur die ekonomiese haalbaarheid bevoordeel word, ten spyte van die ernstige omgewingsimpakte wat dit kon inhou. Die doel van hierdie studie was om hierdie kwessies aan te spreek in 'n Suid-Afrikaanse konteks, waar biobrandstof uit suikerriet bagasse geproduseer kan word. Die eerste stap was om 'n bestaande simulasiemodel vir 'n bio-scenario wat met Afsonderlike Hidroliese en Fermentasie (SHF proses) stappe werk, te modifiseer vir 'n tweede verwerking scenario wat met 'n gelyktydige Versuikering en Fermentasie (SSF proses) konfigurasie werk. Die verandering is gedoen deur die gebruik van betroubare eksperimentele data. Die tweede stap was om te verseker dat elke scenario die maksimum energie-doeltreffendheid het, deur 'n hitte-integrasie stap, wat gebruik maak van “pinch-point” analise. In teenstelling met hierdie biologiese modelle, is daar die thermochemiese roete waar petrol en diesel van bagasse vervaardig word via vergassing, Fischer-Tropsch-sintese en rafinering (GFT proses). Daar was geen betekenisvolle vooruitgang in tegnologie vir hierdie proses nie, maar die energie-doeltreffendheid is gemaksimeer word deur energie-integrasie. Die GFT proses toon die hoogste energie-doeltreffendheid van 50,6%. Sonder die invloed van energie-integrasie het die doeltreffendheid gedaal tot 46%, wat dus die belangrikheid van hitte-integrasie beklemtoon. Die SSF het 'n effektiwiteit van 42,8% gehad, wat beter was as dié 39,3% van die SHF opsie. Hierdie hoër effektiwiteit wasas gevolg van die hoër omskakeling van biomassa na etanol in die SSF scenario. Die energie doeltreffendheid vir die SHF-model was laer as met 'n identiese model (sonder energie-integrasie) wat in die literatuur gevind wat is. Dit het ontstaan omdat die vorige studie nie 'n volledig voorsiening gemaak het met die energie-eise van die verkillingstelselsnie, wat tot 40% van die elektriese energie behoeftes kan uitmaak. Die ekonomiese lewensvatbaarheid van al drie prosesse is bepaal met Monte Carlo simulasies om die risiko's wat die fluktuasies in kommoditeitspryse en finansiële indekse inhou, in berekening te bring. Hierdie is bereik deur die projeksie van die fluktuasies van hierdie parameters aan die hand van 'n historiese databasis wat omskep is in 'n waarskynlikheid verspreiding funksie. Die gevolge is gemeet in terme van die netto huidige waarde (NHW) en Interne Opbrengskoers (IOK) vir 'n groot aantal simulasies. Die resultate van hierdie veranderlikes is saamgevoeg en daarna, deur die toets van die waarskynlikheid dat die NPV <0, en dat die IRR laer as die rentekoers van 12,64% daal, beoordeel. Die belegging is dus nie realiseerbaar geag as die waarskynlikhede meer as 20% was nie. Beide biologieseprosesse kan as winsgewend beskou word in terme van bostaande norme. Die waarskynlikhede was 13% vir die SSF en 14% vir die SHF. Aangesien die NHW van die GFT-proses onder 0 met ‘n waarskynlikheid van 78% is, is die opsie as nie-winsgewend beskou. Gegewe dat die GFT-proses die hoogste energie-doeltreffendheid het, is die resultaat hoofsaaklik omdat die kapitale belegging van 140,000 USD / MWHHV-biomassa energie-inset te groot is, om enige terugbetaling te verwag. Die omgewingsvoetspoor van elke proses is bepaal deur die gebruik van Lewens Siklus Analises (“Life Cycle Assessments”) (LCAS). LCAS is 'n wetenskaplike metodeom die effek van ‘n produk of proses binne bepaalde grense beide kwalitatief en kwantitatief te bepaal. Die impakte word beoordeel vir 'n verskeidenheid van omgewingskwessies, soos aardverwarming, versuring, eutrofikasie en menslike toksisiteit. Voorts, indien die projek onder die saak verskeie afvoer produkte het, word die impakte tussen die afvoer produkte verdeel, in verhouding tot die inkomste wat elkeen genereer. Die impak was met of relatief tot die vloei van roumateriaal (600MW van bagasse), of tot die funksionele eenheid, wat die hoeveelheid van brandstof is om 'n standaard voertuig aan te dryf oor 'n afstand van 1 kilometer. In al die gevalle het die GFT scenario die laagste belading op die omgewing geplaas. Hierdie is te verwagte omdat die GFT proses die hoogste energie-doeltreffendheid het en die proses self nie enige addisionele chemikalieë vereis nie. Relatief tot die roumateriaal vloei, het die SSF die grootse belading op die omgewing geplaas as gevolg van die intensiewe gebruik van verwerkte chemikalieë. Relatief tot die funksionele eenheid, was die SHF die swakste as gevolg van sy lae energie-doeltreffendheid.

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