A process economic assessment of hydrocarbon biofuels production using chemoautotrophic organisms

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Abstract

Economic analysis of an ARPA-e Electrofuels (http://arpa-e.energy.gov/?q=arpa-e-programs/electrofuels) process is presented, utilizing metabolically engineered Rhodobacter capsulatus or Ralstonia eutropha to produce the C30+ hydrocarbon fuel, botryococcene, from hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen. The analysis is based on an Aspen plus® bioreactor model taking into account experimentally determined Rba. capsulatus and Rls. eutropha growth and maintenance requirements, reactor residence time, correlations for gas-liquid mass-transfer coefficient, gas composition, and specific cellular fuel productivity. Based on reactor simulation results encompassing technically relevant parameter ranges, the capital and operating costs of the process were estimated for 5000 bbl-fuel/day plant and used to predict fuel cost. Under the assumptions used in this analysis and crude oil prices, the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) required for economic feasibility must be less than 2¢/kWh. While not feasible under current market prices and costs, this work identifies key variables impacting process cost and discusses potential alternative paths toward economic feasibility.

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Khan, N. E., Myers, J. A., Tuerk, A. L., & Curtis, W. R. (2014). A process economic assessment of hydrocarbon biofuels production using chemoautotrophic organisms. Bioresource Technology, 172, 201–211. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biortech.2014.08.118

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