Applied Energy, Vol.225, 570-584, 2018
Methanol production via black liquor co-gasification with expanded raw material base - Techno-economic assessment
Entrained flow gasification of black liquor combined with downstream-gas-derived synthesis of biofuels in Kraft pulp mills has shown advantages regarding energy efficiency and economic performance when compared to combustion in a recovery boiler. To further increase the operation flexibility and the profitability of the biofuel plant while at the same time increase biofuel production, black liquor can be co-gasified with a secondary feedstock (blend-in feedstock). This work has evaluated the prospects of producing biofuels via co-gasification of black liquor and different blend-in feedstocks (crude glycerol, fermentation residues, pyrolysis liquids) at different blend ratios. Process modelling tools were used, in combination with techno-economic assessment methods. Two methanol grades, crude and grade AA methanol, were investigated. The results showed that the co-gasification concepts resulted in significant increases in methanol production volumes, as well as in improved conversion efficiencies, when compared with black liquor gasification; 5-11 and 4-10 percentage point in terms of cold gas efficiency and methanol conversion efficiency, respectively. The economic analysis showed that required methanol selling prices ranging from 55 to 101 (sic)/MWh for crude methanol and 58-104 (sic)/MWh for grade AA methanol were obtained for an IRR of 15%. Blend-in led to positive economies-of-scale effects and subsequently decreased required methanol selling prices, in particular for low cost blend-in feedstocks (prices below approximately 20(sic)/MWh). The co-gasification concepts showed economic competitiveness to other biofuel production routes. When compared with fossil fuels, the resulting crude methanol selling prices were above maritime gas oil prices. Nonetheless, for fossil derived methanol prices higher than 80 (sic)/MWh, crude methanol from co-gasification could be an economically competitive option. Grade AA methanol could also compete with taxed gasoline. Crude glycerol turned out as the most attractive blend-in feedstock, from an economic perspective. When mixed with black liquor in a ratio of 50/50, grade AA methanol could even be cost competitive with untaxed gasoline.