Exergetic, environmental and economic assessment of sugarcane first–generation biorefineries

  • Pablo Silva Ortiz University of Campinas – UNICAMP
  • Daniel Flórez-Orrego University of São Paulo - USP
  • Silvio de Oliveira Junior University of São Paulo - USP
  • François Maréchal École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne - EPFL
  • Rubens Maciel Filho University of Campinas – UNICAMP


First generation ethanol (1G) contributes to the majority of the ethanol produced worldwide, predominantly centered on cornand sugarcane. Nevertheless, several issues are regularly highlighted concerning the long-term sustainability of this technology,including its intensive water and land use, potential contamination of soils through the distillation residues, as well as thebalance between fuel and food crops. Accordingly, in this study, a process design approach for biomass to ethanol production(1G ethanol technology) from sugarcane was performed by using Aspen Plusr software, based on the autonomous distillery(AUT, ethanol production) and the annexed plant (ANX, joint ethanol and sugar production) configurations. In addition, a performancecomparison in respect to the exergy efficiency and the irreversibility as quality indicators of the conversion processesis carried out to identify potential improvements in the production facilities. Hence, the shortcomings of the techno-economicassessment of ethanol production can be overcome by using exergy efficiency as a suitable indicator for process performance.Moreover, the technical/sustainability aspects related to the process design of the sugarcane biorefineries are discussed inlight of the renewability exergy index (). In general, the ANX plant has a saving in the process irreversibility rate of about 6%, whereas the average unitary exergy cost is 10% lower (AUEC= 2.41 kJ/kJ), in contrast to the AUT distillery. Moreover, atechno-economic analysis was carried out to assess the annexed plant and the autonomous distillery systems, consideringthe estimated capital expenditure. The results indicated that the ANX biorefinery has higher capex than the AUT distillery. Itis noted that the higher investments are associated with sugarcane reception, ethanol production (juice extraction) and thecombined heat and power sub-systems. Concerning system performance, the ANX plant presented a better overall exergyefficiency, with 41.39 %. Although this multi-criteria analysis is applied to 1G ethanol technology; it may be well-matchedfor various biorefineries/bioprocesses as a methodology to support decision-making as concerns potential improvement, wellahead of detailed process design.


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How to Cite
SILVA ORTIZ, Pablo et al. Exergetic, environmental and economic assessment of sugarcane first–generation biorefineries. Journal of Power Technologies, [S.l.], v. 99, n. 2, p. 67–81, apr. 2019. ISSN 2083-4195. Available at: <https://papers.itc.pw.edu.pl/index.php/JPT/article/view/1517>. Date accessed: 18 june 2024.
Contemporary Problems of Thermal Engineering 2018 Gliwice


Exergy analysis, Thermo-economic, Sugarcane bagasse, Irreversibilities, Cogeneration Systems and Environmental performance.

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