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Techno-economic and life-cycle assessments of biorefineries based on palm empty fruit bunches in Brazil

Vaskan, Pavel, Pachón, Elia Ruiz, Gnansounou, Edgard
Journal of cleaner production 2018 v.172 pp. 3655-3668
biodiesel, bioenergy industry, biorefining, cattle, climate change, environmental impact, ethanol fuels, eutrophication, feedstocks, fossil fuels, heat, life cycle assessment, lignocellulose, syrups, toxicity, Brazil
Lignocellulosic material is one of the most promising feedstock frequently investigated for the biochemicals and biofuels industries. Palm empty fruit bunches (EFB) are the abundant lignocellulosic residues from the palm oil/biodiesel industry, which require special disposal and utilisation. Therefore, the valorisation of EFB as a multi-product bio-refinery feedstock promises to be economically and environmentally attractive. However, it requires further investigation and feasibility assessment. This study conducts techno-economic and life-cycle assessments in Brazil of two EFB-based biorefinery scenarios producing fuel ethanol, heat and power, and C5 syrup (as feed for cattle). In terms of environmental impact, both scenarios show a significant reduction in climate change and fossil fuel depletion. Nevertheless, the economic prospects of the biorefinery scenarios and their benefits for toxicity and eutrophication are limited under the considered conditions.