Advanced biomass-based motor fuels and chemicals are becoming increasingly important to replace fossil energy sources within the coming decades. It is likely that the new biorefineries will evolve mainly from existing forest industry sites, as they already have the required biomass handling infrastructure in place. The main objective of this work is to assess the potential for increasing the profit margin from sawmill byproducts by integrating innovative downstream processes. The focus is on the techno-economic evaluation of an integrated site for biomass-based synthetic natural gas (bio-SNG) production. The option of using the syngas in a biomass-integrated gasification combined cycle (b-IGCC) for the production of electricity (instead of SNG) is also considered for comparison. The process flowsheets that are used to analyze the energy and material balances are modelled in MATLAB and Simulink. A mathematical process integration model of a typical Nordic sawmill is used to analyze the effects on the energy flows in the overall site, as well as to evaluate the site economics. Different plant sizes have been considered in order to assess the economy-of-scale effect. The technical data required as input are collected from the literature and, in some cases, from experiments. The investment cost is evaluated on the basis of conducted studies, third party supplier budget quotations and in-house database information. This paper presents complete material and energy balances of the considered processes and the resulting process economics. Results show that in order for the integrated SNG production to be favored, depending on the sawmill size, a biofuel subsidy in the order of 28–52 €/MWh SNG is required.
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