Model-based plant-wide optimization of large-scale lignocellulosic bioethanol plants.

Remus Mihail Prunescu, Mogens Blanke, Jon Geest Jakobsen, Gürkan Sin

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Second generation biorefineries transform lignocellulosic biomass into chemicals with higher added value following a conversion mechanism that consists of:
pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis, fermentation and purification. The objective of this study is to identify the optimal operational point with respect to maximum
economic profit of a large scale biorefinery plant using a systematic model-based plantwide optimization methodology. The following key process parameters are
identified as decision variables: pretreatment temperature, enzyme dosage in enzymatic hydrolysis, and yeast loading per batch in fermentation. The plant is treated in an integrated manner taking into account the interactions and trade-offs between the conversion steps. A sensitivity and uncertainty analysis follows at the optimal solution considering both model and feed parameters. It is found that the optimal point is more sensitive to feedstock composition than to model parameters, and that the optimization supervisory layer as part of a plantwide automation system has the following benefits: (1) increases the economical profit, (2) flattens the objective function allowing a wider range of operation without negative impact on profit, and (3) reduces considerably the uncertainty on profit.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiochemical Engineering Journal
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Second generation bioethanol plant
  • Nonlinear model-based optimization
  • Uncertainty and sensitivity analysis
  • Steam pretreatment
  • Enzymatic hydrolysis
  • C5 and C6 co-fermentation

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