Synthesis, Simulation and Optimization of Advanced Processes for Biomass-to-Liquid Transportation Fuels Production

Paola Ibarra-Gonzalez

Research output: ThesisPh.D. thesis


The increasing energy demand of the transport sector has encouraged the search for non-fossil sources, economically viable and environmentally sustainable that can meet the production requirements and provide energy security. Lignocellulosic biomass is a renewable energy source available in a large quantity throughout the world. It presents many advantages over fossil fuels and first-generation biofuels among which are the possibility to decrease CO2 emissions and atmospheric pollution and eliminate the impact on food supply since they do not compete with food production. Moreover, products from the biomass conversion are perfect equivalents to petroleum products and their properties can be adapted to meet the requirements of current internal combustion engines, filling stations and storage units. For these reasons, lignocellulosic biomass derived products are considered as promising alternatives to gradually replace fossil fuels for transportation, power generation and production of chemicals. However, their major disadvantages are the high production costs and the lack of infrastructure. Therefore, in this project, the focus has been in the development and evaluation of biomass-to-liquid (BtL) technologies to produce biofuels in a sustainable and economically feasible manner.
A systematic methodology framework was proposed for the synthesis, simulation and optimization of lignocellulosic BtL processes to produce green gasoline and diesel. The systematic approach was divided in five levels. In the first level, the synthesis of five technological routes based on literature data was performed by considering different thermochemical conversion, upgrading, and separation technologies. In the second level, the rigorous simulation of the process routes was carried out on Aspen Plus to predict mass and energy balances, thermodynamic properties, and costs. In the third level, a BtL processing superstructure was defined considering the interconnection between the technological routes, as well as mass and energy integrations. In the fourth level, the superstructure was defined as a Mixed Integer Non-Linear Programming problem, which sets the objective to minimize the total cost of manufacturing of BtL fuels under different constraint scenarios and product profiles. From the different constraint scenarios, optimal process configurations were generated. Finally, in the fifth level, the optimal process configurations were further optimized in terms of unit operations’ design parameters and considering as objective function the combination of economic, safety and environmental indexes, as well as green chemistry metrics. By applying the systematic methodology framework, it was confirmed that the implementation of process synthesis, simulation and optimization techniques can propose optimal BtL process configurations and operation conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOdense
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Note re. dissertation

Grad tildelt 10-12-2019

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