Skip Navigation Links.

Search for publications:

Limit search to the fields

ECN publication
Co-production of bio-ethanol, electricity and heat from biomass wastes : potential and R&D issues
Reith, J.H.; Veenkamp, J.M.; Ree, R. van; Laat, W.T.A.M. de; Niessen, J.J.; Jong, E. de; Elbersen, H.W.; Claassen, P.A.M.
Published by: Publication date:
ECN 1-4-2001
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-RX--01-011 Conference Paper
Number of pages: Full text:
12 Download PDF  

Presented at: First European Conference on Agriculture & Renewable Energy, RAI Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 6-8 mei 2001.

Large-scale application of bio-ethanol as a transportation fuel can contribute substantially to the reduction of CO2 emissions and other emissions (SO2, NOx) from the transport sector. Worldwide, 17 million tons/year of fuel ethanol are currently produced from agro-feedstocks such as corn, sugar cane, sugar beet and wheat. Current production costs are about 0.34 Euro/liter (16.2 Euro/GJ) which is 2 fold the price of gasoline (7.3 Euro/GJ). The use of agricultural residues and biomass wastes from agro-industry, forestry or other origins as afeedstock is expected to greatly enhance world fuel ethanol production at reduced cost, thus promoting large scale application. The projected costs for large scale ethanol production from biomass wastes are 0.26 Euro/liter (12.4 Euro/GJ). Through technological developments, the cost of ethanol may be further reduced to approx. 0.18 Euro/liter (8.6 Euro/GJ) in the longer term. Biomass is composed of cellulose, hemi-cellulose and lignin. Both the cellulose and hemi-cellulose fractions can be fermented to ethanol after suitable pre-treatment and hydrolysis. The remaining, non-fermentable fraction can be thermally converted to electricity and heat, which are used for the ethanol production process and for export to the public grid. Intensive R&D on biomass-to-ethanol processes in the past two decades has led to substantial industrial developments mainly in the USA and Canada. In the Netherlands there is a rapidly growing industrial interest for production of potentially low cost ethanol from biomass wastes and its application in fuels. The Dutch government intends to support further development to accelerate commercial implementation. A consortium from industry and the R&D sector is currently being formed in the Netherlands to assess the possibilities for further development and commercial implementation. The first step is to evaluate the technical state-of-the art, the economic feasibility and the ecological performance in order to identify the R&D required for commercial implementation. A preliminary outcome of this evaluation is presented in this paper.

Back to List