Larch biorefinery: Technical and economic evaluation

  • Hörhammer H
  • Treasure T
  • Gonzalez R
 et al. 
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In this study a forest biorefinery concept based on larch wood was
technically and economically evaluated. Two slightly different cases of
a larch-based biorefinery were compared to conventional kraft pulping.
The wood chips of Larix sibirica (Lebed.) were pre-extracted (PE) and
washed with water prior to pulping, in order to generate an additional
sugar side-stream. The sugars were hydrolyzed into monosugars, which
were then fermented by Bacillus coagulans into lactic acid. The lactic
acid needs to be purified before sold to the market. By pulping the
pre-extracted wood chips with anthraquinone (AQ) and polysulfide (PS),,
the pulp yield loss was reduced. The pulp was then bleached
(O-D0-Ep-D1-P). The products of this larch biorefinery are bleached
softwood pulp and lactic acid. Three process cases were simulated:
conventional kraft pulping, PE-PSAQ with 0.5% PS, and PE-PSAQ with 2%
PS, in terms of mass and energy balances. Considering the availability
of larch resources, this kind of a biorefinery could suitably be located
in Siberia, Russia. Market prices were collected, and based on the
simulation results, cash flows were determined. Sensitivity analysis was
carried out, and investment costs were estimated. Based on the
simulation with the addition of a lactic acid production line to an
existing pulp mill, the payback time for the investment costs would be
about 16 months.

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  • Ronalds GonzalezNorth Carolina State University

  • Hanna S. Hörhammer

  • Trevor H. Treasure

  • Adriaan R.P. Van Heiningen

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