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Process design and economic studies of alternative fermentation methods for the production of ethanol

Authors

  • Gerald R. Cysewski,

    1. Department of Chemical Engineering and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720
    Current affiliation:
    1. Dept. of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara, Calif. 93106
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  • Charles R. Wilke

    1. Department of Chemical Engineering and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720
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Abstract

Cell recycle and vacuum fermentation processes are described for the continuous production of ethanol. Preliminary process design studies are employed to make an economic comparison of these alternative fermentation schemes with continuous and batch fermentation technologies. Designs are based on a production capacity of 78,000 gal 95% ethanol (EtOH)/day employing molasses as the fermentation substrate. The studies indicate that a 57% reduction in fixed capital investment is realized by continuous rather than batch operation. Further decreases in required capital investment of 68 and 71% over batch fermentation were obtained for cell recycle and vacuum operation, respectively. However, ethanol production costs were dominated by the cost of molasses, representing over 75% of the total manufacturing cost. But, when a reasonable yeast by-product credit was assumed, the net production cost for 95% ethanol was estimated at 82.3 and 80.6 cent/gal, for the cell recycle and vacuum processes, respectively.

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