BioEthanol Production
Process modeling and simulation with ProSimPlus
bioEthanol production process [click to expand]
Background information

There are two types of ethanol industrially produced: synthetic ethanol and fermentation ethanol. Fermentation ethanol (or bioethanol) can be produced from biomass materials containing sugars, starches or cellulose (starch and cellulose are more complex forms of sugar). All these production processes require a fermentation step to convert the sugar into ethanol, as well as a more or less advanced distillation step to separate the alcohol from the water.

Ethanol is a widely used biofuel. In addition to being renewable, ethanol has a major advantage in that it can be easily blended with gasoline. In some cases ethanol is first converted to its ether form (ETBE), obtained in reaction with refinery isobutene. When small amounts of ethanol are added to gasoline, there are many advantages, in particular the reduction of carbon monoxide and other toxic pollution from exhaust gases of vehicles. Because ethanol is made from crops that absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ethanol is also added to gasoline as an octane enhancer.

For all these reasons many ethanol producers or engineering firms are today focusing on designing and building-up new plants as rapidly as possible in order to satisfy a growing demand.

Modeling the process
Rigorous process simulation is today increasingly used to design and optimize the bioethanol production processes. It also provides a starting point for advanced simulation of such process by presenting a set of unit operation modules and components with their physical properties.

Generally speaking, advanced simulation software like ProSimPlus enable you to pre-size equipment, run troubleshooting and debottlenecking analysis. Their ability to run many scenarios allows solving these type of problems within a reduced time and a minimum investment.

An example of bioethanol production process was built with ProSimPlus. Among other things it illustrates how to deal with components that are not in the standard database. One can either start from an existing component and modify one or some of its properties, or create a new component from scratch.

This example can be used to analyze and understand the main areas of the process and shows one way to model these particular areas and their interconnections. Additional areas of investigation can also be the testing of new equipment configuration to enhance production yield and analysis of energy efficiency.
It is to be noted that this particular model is not intended to be used in equipment detailed design, manufacturing or even producing engineering documents without further review by a process engineer.

Continue to "Process modeling".





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