The 2nd generation plants producing ethanol from lignocelluloses demand risky and high investment costs. This paper presents the energy- and economical evaluations for integrating lignocellulose in current 1st generation dry mill ethanol processes, using filamentous fungi. Dry mills use grains and have mills, liquefactions, saccharifications, fermentation, and distillation to produce ethanol, while their stillage passes centrifugation, and evaporation to recycle the water and dry the cake and evaporated syrup into animal feed. In this work, a bioreactor was considered to cultivate fungi on the stillage either before or after the centrifugation step together with pretreated lignocellulosic wheat bran. The results showed that the integrated 1st and 2nd generation ethanol process requires a capital investment of 77 million USD, which could yield NPV of 162 million USD after 20 years. Compared to the fungal cultivation on thin stillage modified 1st generation process, the integrated process resulted in 53 million USD higher NPV. The energy analysis showed that the thin stillage modified 1st generation process could reduce the overall energy consumption by 2.5% and increase the ethanol production by 4%. Such modifications in the 1st generation processes and integration concepts could be interesting for the ethanol industries, as integrating lignocelluloses to their existing setup requires less capital investment.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited