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Integration of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell in a sugar–ethanol factory: analysis of the efficiency and the environmental profile of the products

Casas, Yannay, Dewulf, Jo, Arteaga-Pérez, Luis E., Morales, Mayra, Van Langenhove, Herman, Rosa, Elena
Journal of cleaner production 2011 v.19 no.13 pp. 1395-1404
air pollution, electricity, environmental impact, ethanol, exergy, feedstocks, fuel cells, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, nonrenewable resources, sugarcane, sugars
The effect of the integration of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) technology in a sugar–ethanol factory on the environmental profile/footprint of the products (sugar, ethanol, electricity) is evaluated. The sugarcane is the primary feedstock and sugar, ethanol and electricity are the main products of the system, where the functional unit is defined as 9.86 ton/h of sugar, 2.195 ton/h of hydrated ethanol (96% w/w) and 847 kWh of electricity. A detailed set of material and energy inputs and outputs was obtained from a local factory and was completed using simulation data by Aspen Plus®. The environmental impacts (greenhouse gases and air pollution), exergy efficiency and a renewability parameter have been considered as indicators for the comparative assessment with conventional sugar, ethanol and electricity production technologies. The results show that the use of a SOFC technology involves a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (52–55%) and non-renewable resources (60–64%) when compared with the conventional integrated sugar and ethanol plant. The higher renewability index (0.93) and exergy efficiency (38%) are noticed for the Solid Oxide Fuel Cell technology integrated in the sugar–ethanol factory than conventional sugar–ethanol plant.