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SYMBioref: Symbiotic Energy-Cane Biorefinery

Grant number: 23/01072-7
Support Opportunities:Program for Research on Bioenergy (BIOEN) - Regular Program Grants
Duration: September 01, 2023 - August 31, 2025
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Chemical Engineering - Chemical Process Industries
Principal Investigator:Adriano Pinto Mariano
Grantee:Adriano Pinto Mariano
Host Institution: Faculdade de Engenharia Química (FEQ). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated researchers: Juan Fernando Perez Bayer


This research aims to propose the concept of a Symbiotic Energy-Cane Biorefinery (SYMBioref) in which energy cane, a sugarcane type rich in fibers, is co-processed with waste materials from other industries, especially refuse-derived fuel (RDF) from municipal solid-waste processing plants, to expand the production of ethanol to a portfolio of fuels and chemicals. This project will investigate techno-economic-environmental aspects of conceptual design alternatives of the SYMBioref that integrate fermentation processes with gasification technology. In the SYMBioref, energy-cane juice is fermented year-round to produce ethanol, and part of the cane biomass is pretreated and enzymatically hydrolyzed to produce glucose and then ethanol. The bagasse hemicellulose hydrolysate (containing xylose) is fed to a multi-product fermentation by two non-genetically modified Clostridium species to produce acetone, butanol, ethanol, and 1,3-propanediol. Part of the energy-cane biomass and lignin are co-processed with other wastes (RDF, eucalyptus biochar, and biodiesel-derived glycerol) by gasification, and the resulting synthesis gas is converted into H2, natural gas, and electricity. Interestingly, the CO2 produced by fermentation will be used as a gasification agent, and part of the H2 will be used to produce jet fuel from the hemicellulose hydrolysate-derived butanol via alcohol-to-jet technology. This proposed design of the SYMBioref will be assessed against design alternatives without the biochemical processing of bagasse, and another that substitutes gasification by a conventional boiler-based cogeneration system. The project is organized into four tasks: (1) techno-economic and life cycle analyses of the proposed design configurations of the SYMBioref; (2) characterization of the wastes considered for gasification; (3) simulation of gasification for the co-processing of wastes, and simulation of the conversion of synthesis gas into hydrogen, natural gas, and electricity; and (4) development of a fermentation strategy that enables the conversion of non-detoxified energy-cane hemicellulose hydrolysate into butanol and other chemicals. The overarching goal of this research is to encourage the continuing growth of the agribusiness sector in the markets of gas and liquid fuels and bioelectricity supported by a solution to face the threat of landfill saturation in densely populated areas. (AU)

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