New alternatives for the fermentation process in the ethanol production from sugarcane: Extractive and low temperature fermentation
Ethanol is produced in large scale from sugarcane in Brazil by fermentation of sugars and distillation. This is currently considered as an efficient biofuel technology, leading to significant reduction on greenhouse gases emissions. However, some improvements in the process can be introduced in order to improve the use of energy. In current distilleries, a significant fraction of the energy consumption occurs in the purification step distillation and dehydration since conventional fermentation systems employed in the industry require low substrate concentration, which must be distilled, consequently with high energy consumption. In this study, alternatives to the conventional fermentation processes are assessed, through computer simulation: low temperature fermentation and vacuum extractive fermentation. The aim of this study is to assess the incorporation of these alternative fermentation processes in ethanol production, energy consumption and electricity surplus produced in the cogeneration system. Several cases were evaluated. Thermal integration technique was applied. Results shown that the ethanol production increases between 3.3% and 4.8% and a reduction in steam consumption happens of up to 36%. About the electricity surplus, a value of 85 kWh/t of cane can be achieved when condensing extracting steam turbines are used. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.