Integration of Supercritical Water Gasification in Combined 1G/2G Ethanol Production
The present study investigates the potential conversion of sugarcane into ethanol and synthetic natural gas. The considered conversion path consists in combining ethanol first and second generation ethanol production plant with a catalytic supercritical water gasification system. The main steps of the ethanol conversion consider fermentation of sugars (1G) and enzymatic hydrolysis of bagasse (2G). Enzymatic hydrolysis is selected since it represents a promising alternative for 2nd generation biofuels due to its high conversion efficiency. Among streams that are leaving the ethanol production plant are some high watered streams, whose carbon/energy content is not negligible. These streams should be valorised in an efficient way in order to improve the energy conversion efficiency. In this context supercritical gasification process allows to valorise these flows leaving the ethanol plant. Using supercritical water gasification it is in fact possible to avoid the drying the ethanol production leftovers, thus performing a direct gasification. The conversion of ligno-cellulosic residues into synthetic natural gas is modelled considering a catalytic supercritical gasification plant. Since the goal is to achieve high energy and exergy conversion efficiencies, the potential use of an additional set of utilities, such as burners, steam injected gas turbines or steam networks, is added to the sizing problem. The mathematical nature of the optimal utility selection problem deals with mixed integer linear programming (MILP) model, in which the type and size of utilities represent the independent variables, having fixed the process size. The results of the integration are showed in terms of Composite and Grand Composite Curves, economic indicators and local CO2 balance. Finally, having identified the ratio of sugarcane that goes to second generation ethanol plant as key dependent variables, the results of a sensitivity analysis are presented. The sensitivity analysis results are shown accounting economics for the Brazilian market, energy conversion performance indicators and considering local carbon dioxide balance.