Techno-economic assessment of subcritical water hydrolysis process for sugars production from brewer’s spent grains

William Gustavo Sganzerla, Giovani Leone Zabot, Paulo César Torres-Mayanga, Luz Selene Buller, Solange I. Mussatto*, Tânia Forster-Carneiro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Breweries generate a high amount of brewer’s spent grains (BSG), which is a valuable feedstock for industrial applications. In the current study, a techno-economic assessment of the flow-through subcritical water hydrolysis reactor to produce sugars from BSG was performed. Simulations were done for a sequential hydrolysis process in three-extractor vessels of 10 L (pilot-plant) and 500 L (industrial-plant), coupled or not to a separation system. The sugar separation system was composed of a five-zone simulated moving bed (SMB) process. A study on the cost of manufacturing (COM), profitability indicators, and sensitivity analysis was conducted to verify the project feasibility. Moreover, the mass and energy balance of the industrial process was accomplished to evidence the main operational parameters. Simulation results indicated that the scale-up process from pilot to industrial scale reduced the COM by approximately 80 %. In the process coupled with the SMB separation system, arabinose and galactose represented 83.68 % of the costs for sugars separation. Arabinose COM decreased from 64.10 USD kg–1 in pilot-plant to 7.22 USD kg–1 in industrial-plant. The implementation of a separation system recovering six sugars with high added-value can be an advantage in the industrial-plant process when comparing to the process without SMB process, which produces a single hydrolysate fraction with low commercial value. Finally, the integrated subcritical water hydrolysis of BSG coupled with a separation system can be a promising alternative to produce different concentrated sugars in a biorefinery concept.
Original languageEnglish
Article number113836
JournalIndustrial Crops and Products
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Flow-through hydrolysis reactor
  • Brewer's spent grains
  • Biorefinery
  • Subcritical water technology
  • Scale-up
  • Techno-economic analysis


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