A methodology for the generation and evaluation of biorefinery process chains, in order to identify the most promising biorefineries for the EU
The topic of bioenergy, biofuels and bioproducts remains at the top of the current political and research agenda. Identification of the optimum processing routes for biomass, in terms of efficiency, cost, environment and socio-economics is vital as concern grows over the remaining fossil fuel resources, climate change and energy security. It is known that the only renewable way of producing conventional hydrocarbon fuels and organic chemicals is from biomass, but the problem remains of identifying the best product mix and the most efficient way of processing biomass to products. The aim is to move Europe towards a biobased economy and it is widely accepted that biorefineries are key to this development. A methodology was required for the generation and evaluation of biorefinery process chains for converting biomass into one or more valuable products that properly considers performance, cost, environment, socio-economics and other factors that influence the commercial viability of a process. In this thesis a methodology to achieve this objective is described. The completed methodology includes process chain generation, process modelling and subsequent analysis and comparison of results in order to evaluate alternative process routes. A modular structure was chosen to allow greater flexibility and allowing the user to generate a large number of different biorefinery configurations The significance of the approach is that the methodology is defined and is thus rigorous and consistent and may be readily re-examined if circumstances change. There was the requirement for consistency in structure and use, particularly for multiple analyses. It was important that analyses could be quickly and easily carried out to consider, for example, different scales, configurations and product portfolios and so that previous outcomes could be readily reconsidered. The result of the completed methodology is the identification of the most promising biorefinery chains from those considered as part of the European Biosynergy Project.
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