Techno-Economic Cellulosic Biorefinery Simulation Model

Project Goal:
JBEI proposes to develop a comprehensive Techno-Economic model of a cellulosic biorefinery to better understand the biorefinery process and estimate the operating costs, research needs, environmental impacts, and the overall viability of these biorefineries. The first stage of the project will develop a detailed plant design using targeted feedstocks (switchgrass, corn stover, miscanthus, and poplar) as the inputs and ethanol as the output, plus estimates of capital and operating costs to establish a baseline. The second stage will employ the model in the evaluation of new technology developments for cellulosic biorefineries that are a result of innovations developed by JBEI and elsewhere. The model will provide a flexible resource to establish a cost- and resource-based perspective on specific innovations, enabling users to better assess their potential impact.

Biorefinery Simulation:

This model will include the effects of biomass species and corresponding chemical composition on:

• overall process efficiency of ethanol production;

• excess electricity generated;

• major waste streams; and

• manufacturing costs of ethanol.

JBEI will also model the effect of plant capacity on overall process efficiency and economic performance. A simplified method to estimate transportation costs and hence feedstock delivered costs will be evaluated.

JBEI will conduct a sensitivity analysis on the baseline process to determine the impact of pretreatment type and kinetics, enzymatic hydrolysis, the combined effects of both feedstock availability and feedstock delivered price, and the fermentation process technology employed on ethanol production costs.

Company partners: JBEI invites companies to participate in the development of this model through a consortium. Each consortium member will have the ability to contribute to the development of the model, as well as to individual design and operating scenarios reflecting customized feedstock, utilities, and capital costing variations.


• Process flow model of a lignocellulosic biorefinery

• Baseline process for biochemical conversion technologies of the targeted feedstocks

• Sensitivity analysis for the baseline model to determine key technical hurdles

Once the baseline is established, this tool can be employed to determine the impact of new technologies and advancements that could be incorporated into a biorefinery, including the production of advanced third-generation biofuels. Partnering companies can utilize the model to evaluate the impact of their technologies. In addition, this resource may help identify gaps and challenges that need to be addressed for biorefinery success.

Type of Offer: Licensing

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