Integrated starch and lignocellulose based biorefineries : Synergies and opportunities

Abstract: The transition from a reliance on fossil resources to the use of renewables for the production of energy, fuels and chemicals is essential for ensuring the sustainability of continued human development. Plant-based biomass is a renewable resource which can be transformed into all of these products. However, biomass is a heterogeneous material composed of several fractions with different chemical properties. Furthermore, the composition varies between species. In order to maximize the environmental and economic sustainability of biomass-based production, production systems that utilize all fractions of biomass to their fullest potential have to be developed. This is the goal of a biorefinery.The work presented in this thesis mainly revolves around biorefineries that utilize feedstocks rich in starch and lignocellulose together to produce ethanol in an integrated process. The work is focused on comparing the performance of stand-alone and integrated biorefineries by investigating the impact that feedstock blending has on parameters important for the process economy, identifying potential synergies from integration and opportunities for improved material utilization.It was found in this work, that the integration of starch- and lignocellulose-based feedstocks could result in improved ethanol productivity and yield during hydrolysis and fermentation compared to a stand-alone lignocellulose process without losing performance compared to a stand-alone starch-based process.The prospects of introducing a sequential fractionation of the lignocellulosic biomass prior to integration was investigated. It was shown that this method could be used to produce separate fractions enriched in cellulose and lignin as well as improving the hydrolyzabilty of the cellulose fraction. This kind of fractionation could facility the utilization of all biomass fractions in both feedstocks by creating new byproduct streams as well as decreasing negative impacts on existing byproduct streams.