Techno-economic risk analysis of glycerol biorefinery concepts against market price fluctuation

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A biorefinery integrates biomass conversion processes to produce fuels, power, and chemicals from bio-based feedstock. Through the synthesis of several products, a biorefinery can benefit from the differences in biomass composition and make the most of the value derived from the biomass feedstock. The high-value added bio-products boost profitability, the high-volume fuel helps meet national energy targets, and the power production cuts costs and dodges greenhouse-gas emissions [1] [2] [3]. The increasing amount of biodiesel production worldwide (e.g. from vegetable oils, palm oil, animal fats or recycled greases as feedstock) is generating a large amount of waste crude glycerol as a by-product (for every 10 kg of biodiesel, 1 kg of waste glycerol is produced) [4]. This worldwide increase in biodiesel production led to a surplus in glycerol which subsequently leads to a decrease in the crude glycerol prices. Therefore, in order to increase the economic competitiveness of the biodiesel industry, there is an increasing interest in adding value using the glycerol waste stream as feedstock for the synthesis of bio-derived building block compounds and polymers [5] [6] [7] [8] [4] [9]. Moreover, certain algae species also accumulate large amounts of glycerol and could become another possible source due to the recent development of algae biomass as feedstock for biofuel production [10]. In this contribution, we study and critically analyze a number of glycerol biorefinery concepts developed earlier [11][12][13][14][15] and compare them in terms of techno-economic performance including minimum selling price calculation for potential high-value added products. In particular, we address the challenge of price volatility (both glycerol as feedstock and high-value added chemicals) and the associated economic risks against historical market fluctuations when assessing the economics of competing glycerol biorefinery concepts. The aim is to compare the fitness/survival of the biorefinery concepts under extreme market disturbances. To perform this analysis, we used a superstructure based sustainable design framework developed earlier [16] [1] [17] [10]. The economic risk analysis enables the user to perform a comprehensive assessment of alternatives using a probabilistic framework which helps to design a robust and competitive glycerol biorefinery.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2015
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event2015 AIChE Annual Meeting - Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, United States
Duration: 8 Nov 201513 Nov 2015


Conference2015 AIChE Annual Meeting
LocationSalt Palace Convention Center
CountryUnited States
CitySalt Lake City
Internet address

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