Synthesis and parameter optimization of a combined sugar and ethanol production process integrated with a CHP system
The combined sugar and ethanol production process from sugar cane is a paradigmatic application for energy integration strategies because of the high number of hot and cold streams involved, the external hot utility requirement at two temperature levels for juice evaporation and crystallization, and the electricity demand for juice extraction by milling. These conditions make it convenient to combine the sugar-cane process with a CHP system fuelled by bagasse, the main by-product from juice extraction. The strategies, tools and expertise on energy integration developed separately by the research teams authoring this paper are applied here jointly to optimize the synthesis and the design parameters of the process and of the total site starting from the basic idea of dissociating the heat exchanger network design problem from the total site synthesis problem. At first the minimization of the external heat requirement for the process alone is pursued and results show that a one third reduction can be achieved by optimal heat integration. Then the use of the by-product bagasse for on-site power generation is considered and two bagasse-fuelled CHP systems are optimized along with some parts of the sugar and ethanol production process in order to obtain maximum total site net power. Results show a variety of interesting scenarios of combined sugar, ethanol and electricity production plants with considerably high electricity output.