Comparing alternative cellulosic biomass biorefining systems: Centralized versus distributed processing systems

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    Abstract

    This study explores how two different cellulosic ethanol production system configurations (distributed versus centralized processing) affect some aspects of the economic and environmental performance of cellulosic ethanol, measured as minimum ethanol selling price (MESP) and various environmental impact categories. The eco-efficiency indicator, which simultaneously accounts for economic and environmental features, is also calculated. The centralized configuration offers better economic performance for small-scale biorefineries, while the distributed configuration is economically superior for large-scale biorefineries. The MESP of the centralized configuration declines with increased biorefinery size up to a point and then rises due to the cost of trucking biomass to the biorefinery. In contrast, the MESP in the distributed configuration continuously declines with increasing biorefinery size due to the lower costs of railroad transportation and the greater economies of scale achieved at much larger biorefinery sizes, including biorefineries that reach the size of an average oil refinery-about 30,000 tons per day of feedstock. The centralized system yields lower environmental impacts for most impact categories than does the distributed system regardless of the biorefinery size. Eco-efficiency analysis shows that the centralized configuration is more sustainable for small-scale biorefineries, while the distributed configuration with railroad transport is more sustainable for large-scale biorefineries. Compared with gasoline from petroleum, cellulosic ethanol fuel offers sustainability advantages for the following environmental impact categories: fossil energy consumption, global warming, human health impacts by particulate matter, ozone layer depletion, ecotoxicity, human health cancer, and human health non-cancer, depending somewhat on the biorefinery sizes and the system configurations.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)135-147
    Number of pages13
    JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
    Volume74
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

    Profile

    Cellulosic ethanol
    Environmental impact
    Sales
    Ethanol
    Health
    Economics
    ethanol
    biorefining
    Biomass
    Costs
    environmental impact
    economics
    Railroad transportation
    Ozone layer
    Ethanol fuels
    Railroads
    Global warming
    Feedstocks
    Gasoline
    Sustainable development

    Keywords

    • ACID
    • AFEX
    • Cellulosic ethanol
    • Corn stover
    • DCFROR
    • Distributed biomass processing
    • ECOT
    • EISA
    • EUTR
    • FSE
    • GE
    • GHG
    • GREET
    • GWI
    • HHC
    • HHNC
    • HHP
    • IPCC
    • Life cycle assessment
    • Local biomass processing depot
    • MESP
    • Minimum ethanol selling price
    • NREL
    • OLD
    • PDF
    • SMG

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Agronomy and Crop Science
    • Forestry
    • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
    • Waste Management and Disposal

    Cite this

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    title = "Comparing alternative cellulosic biomass biorefining systems: Centralized versus distributed processing systems",
    abstract = "This study explores how two different cellulosic ethanol production system configurations (distributed versus centralized processing) affect some aspects of the economic and environmental performance of cellulosic ethanol, measured as minimum ethanol selling price (MESP) and various environmental impact categories. The eco-efficiency indicator, which simultaneously accounts for economic and environmental features, is also calculated. The centralized configuration offers better economic performance for small-scale biorefineries, while the distributed configuration is economically superior for large-scale biorefineries. The MESP of the centralized configuration declines with increased biorefinery size up to a point and then rises due to the cost of trucking biomass to the biorefinery. In contrast, the MESP in the distributed configuration continuously declines with increasing biorefinery size due to the lower costs of railroad transportation and the greater economies of scale achieved at much larger biorefinery sizes, including biorefineries that reach the size of an average oil refinery-about 30,000 tons per day of feedstock. The centralized system yields lower environmental impacts for most impact categories than does the distributed system regardless of the biorefinery size. Eco-efficiency analysis shows that the centralized configuration is more sustainable for small-scale biorefineries, while the distributed configuration with railroad transport is more sustainable for large-scale biorefineries. Compared with gasoline from petroleum, cellulosic ethanol fuel offers sustainability advantages for the following environmental impact categories: fossil energy consumption, global warming, human health impacts by particulate matter, ozone layer depletion, ecotoxicity, human health cancer, and human health non-cancer, depending somewhat on the biorefinery sizes and the system configurations.",
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    author = "Seungdo Kim and Dale, {Bruce E.}",
    year = "2015",
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    volume = "74",
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    publisher = "Elsevier Limited",

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    N2 - This study explores how two different cellulosic ethanol production system configurations (distributed versus centralized processing) affect some aspects of the economic and environmental performance of cellulosic ethanol, measured as minimum ethanol selling price (MESP) and various environmental impact categories. The eco-efficiency indicator, which simultaneously accounts for economic and environmental features, is also calculated. The centralized configuration offers better economic performance for small-scale biorefineries, while the distributed configuration is economically superior for large-scale biorefineries. The MESP of the centralized configuration declines with increased biorefinery size up to a point and then rises due to the cost of trucking biomass to the biorefinery. In contrast, the MESP in the distributed configuration continuously declines with increasing biorefinery size due to the lower costs of railroad transportation and the greater economies of scale achieved at much larger biorefinery sizes, including biorefineries that reach the size of an average oil refinery-about 30,000 tons per day of feedstock. The centralized system yields lower environmental impacts for most impact categories than does the distributed system regardless of the biorefinery size. Eco-efficiency analysis shows that the centralized configuration is more sustainable for small-scale biorefineries, while the distributed configuration with railroad transport is more sustainable for large-scale biorefineries. Compared with gasoline from petroleum, cellulosic ethanol fuel offers sustainability advantages for the following environmental impact categories: fossil energy consumption, global warming, human health impacts by particulate matter, ozone layer depletion, ecotoxicity, human health cancer, and human health non-cancer, depending somewhat on the biorefinery sizes and the system configurations.

    AB - This study explores how two different cellulosic ethanol production system configurations (distributed versus centralized processing) affect some aspects of the economic and environmental performance of cellulosic ethanol, measured as minimum ethanol selling price (MESP) and various environmental impact categories. The eco-efficiency indicator, which simultaneously accounts for economic and environmental features, is also calculated. The centralized configuration offers better economic performance for small-scale biorefineries, while the distributed configuration is economically superior for large-scale biorefineries. The MESP of the centralized configuration declines with increased biorefinery size up to a point and then rises due to the cost of trucking biomass to the biorefinery. In contrast, the MESP in the distributed configuration continuously declines with increasing biorefinery size due to the lower costs of railroad transportation and the greater economies of scale achieved at much larger biorefinery sizes, including biorefineries that reach the size of an average oil refinery-about 30,000 tons per day of feedstock. The centralized system yields lower environmental impacts for most impact categories than does the distributed system regardless of the biorefinery size. Eco-efficiency analysis shows that the centralized configuration is more sustainable for small-scale biorefineries, while the distributed configuration with railroad transport is more sustainable for large-scale biorefineries. Compared with gasoline from petroleum, cellulosic ethanol fuel offers sustainability advantages for the following environmental impact categories: fossil energy consumption, global warming, human health impacts by particulate matter, ozone layer depletion, ecotoxicity, human health cancer, and human health non-cancer, depending somewhat on the biorefinery sizes and the system configurations.

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