Applied Energy, Vol.116, 125-133, 2014
Techno-economic study of NMMO pretreatment and biogas production from forest residues
Biogas is nowadays getting more attention as a means for converting wastes and lignocelluloses to green fuels for cars and electricity production. The process of biogas production from N-methylmorpholine oxide (NMMO) pretreated forest residues used in a co-digestion process was economically evaluated. The co-digestion occurs together with the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW). The process simulated the milling of the lignocelluloses, NMMO pretreatment unit, washing and filtration of the feedstock, followed by an anaerobic co-digestion, upgrading of the biogas and de-watering of the digestate. The process also took into consideration the utilization of 100,000 DW (dried weight) tons of forest residues and 200,000 DW tons of OFMSW per year. It resulted in an internal rate of return (IRR) of 24.14% prior to taxes, which might be attractive economically. The cost of the chemical NMMO treatment was regarded as the most challenging operating cost, followed by the evaporation of the washing water. Sensitivity analysis was performed on different plant size capacities, treating and digesting between 25,000 and 400,000 DW tons forest residues per year. It shows that the minimum plant capacity of 50,000 DW tons forest residues per year is financially viable. Moreover, different co-digestion scenarios were evaluated. The co-digestion of forest residues together with sewage sludge instead of OFMSW, and the digestion of forest residues only were shown to be non-feasible solutions with too low IRR. Furthermore, biogas production from forest residues was compared with the energy produced during combustion. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.