Process Design and Economics for Biochemical Conversion of Lignocellulosic Biomass to Ethanol: Dilute-Acid Pretreatment and Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Corn Stover

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This report describes one potential biochemical ethanol conversion process, conceptually based upon core conversion and process integration research at NREL. The overarching process design converts corn stover to ethanol by dilute-acid pretreatment, enzymatic saccharification, and co-fermentation. Building on design reports published in 2002 and 1999, NREL, together with the subcontractor Harris Group Inc., performed a complete review of the process design and economic model for the biomass-to-ethanol process. This update reflects NREL's current vision of the biochemical ethanol process and includes the latest research in the conversion areas (pretreatment, conditioning, saccharification, and fermentation), optimizations in product recovery, and our latest understanding of the ethanol plant's back end (wastewater and utilities). The conceptual design presented here reports ethanol production economics as determined by 2012 conversion targets and 'nth-plant' project costs and financing. For the biorefinery described here, processing 2,205 dry ton/day at 76% theoretical ethanol yield (79 gal/dry ton), the ethanol selling price is $2.15/gal in 2007$.