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Sugar Cane Ethanol Plant


From processdesign
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.

Design Report Authors: Kramer Brand, Eric Donnelly, Joshua Kaplan, May Wang (Fall 2011)
Wiki Page Author: David Chen
Steward: Fengqi You
Date Presented: January 16, 2014 /Date Revised: January 16, 2014

Contents
1 Executive Summary
2 Introduction
3 Design Basis
4 Project Economics
5 Plant Location
6 Process Overview
7 Process Schedule
8 Design Considerations
8.1 Milling and Pre-Treatment
8.1.1 Milling Results
8.1.2 Milling Assumptions
8.1.3 Milling Discussion
8.1.4 Milling Possible Errors
8.1.5 Bagasse Hydrolysis Results
8.1.6 Bagasse Hydrolysis Possible Errors
8.2 Fermentation
8.2.1 Fermentation Results
8.2.2 Mode of Operation
8.2.3 Choice of Bacteria
8.2.4 Growth Medium
8.2.5 Yeast Separation Method
8.2.6 Yeast Propagation
8.2.7 Fermentation Assumptions
8.2.8 Fermentation Possible Errors
8.3 Separations

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8.3.1 Separation Results


8.3.2 Separations Assumptions
8.3.3 Separations Discussion
8.3.4 Separations Possible Error
8.4 Utilities
8.4.1 Heat Exchanger Network
8.4.2 Co-Generation Plant
8.4.3 Water Treatment Plant
8.4.4 In-Process Water Recycling
8.4.5 Cooling Pond
8.5 Safety
8.6 Reliability
8.7 Process Controls
9 Conclusions
10 Recommendations
11 Works Cited
12 Attachments
12.1 SCEP Design Basis vFP
12.2 Economic Analysis
12.3 Cost of Production
12.4 Effluent Streams
12.5 ICARUS Printouts
12.6 Material Balances
12.7 Heat Exchanger Networks

Executive Summary
As the alternative energy industry continues to grow in the United States, Global Impact Chemical Corporation
(GICC) has taken interest in producing vehicle biofuel from plant matter such as sugarcane. With a capital cost
limitation of 1 billion USD, a process plant design and the corresponding economic analysis were devised. Liberia,
Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica was chosen as the plants location due to inexpensive cost and proximity to rich
natural resources. Due to market demand of anhydrous ethanol in the United States and hydrous ethanol in Brazil,
both forms of ethanol may be produced with the proposed plant design.
Research on current ethanol manufacturing processes guided the final design of the ethanol plant. The proposed
design was divided among three major processes: milling, fermentation, and separations. An electricity
cogeneration system and an additional bagasse hydrolysis process assist in keeping the proposed plant
self-sufficient and increase ethanol production. Microsoft Visio and Aspen HYSYS were used to design complete
process flow diagrams and simulate the fermentation and separations processes. All other calculations were
performed in Microsoft Excel. It was estimated that an initial feed of 147 tons per hour of sugarcane, milled and
fermented with the bacteria S. Cerevisiae, produced the desired total of 20,000 kg/h of hydrous ethanol and
19,500 kg/h of anhydrous ethanol. Aspen Economic Analyzer aided in estimating the cost of the sized equipment in
each of the three major processing steps. The total capital cost of the plant, as designed, is estimated as $465.9
million.
Economic analysis predicts a net present value of $240 million on a twenty-year basis. Furthermore, the estimated

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rate of return is 19.7% after twenty years, with a pay-back period of 4.10 years, satisfying the desired payback
time of three years. A gross margin percentage of 70% after plant startup was calculated, thus the plants
potential financial performance is significantly better than the average range of 40-50%. According to the analysis,
the proposed sugarcane ethanol plant design would be economically viable and would provide GICC with a
promising first step towards a biofuel for alternative fuel vehicles.

Introduction
Fuel ethanol has been an important alternative fuel for decades. With petroleum prices reaching upwards of $100
per barrel on a regular basis, the market for fuel ethanol is poised to grow even further. Currently the largest
producer of ethanol in the world is Brazil, where a combination of fuel composition standards, supplier incentives,
and low sugarcane prices combine to make the production of sugarcane ethanol a lucrative opportunity. The
market in Brazil appears to be nearing saturation, however, as evidenced by a growth rate in production of only
5% from 2009 to 2010 [1]. This pales in comparison to the near 30% growth that the US market has experienced
over the last 5 years. It is believed that much of this growth is due to the high gasoline prices in the country and
that this may be addressed by an increase in the production of alternative fuels. Our team has decided to pursue
the design of a sugarcane ethanol plant to be located in Costa Rica which will serve both the domestic, Costa
Rican market, and the US market. Costa Rica offers an area with low sugarcane prices which will allow us to follow
the more efficient sugarcane-fed process instead of the cornbased process pursued in the US. Costa Rica also
offers free-trade agreements [2] which allow the ethanol to pass into the US tariff free, providing a significant
advantage over Brazilian competitors.
Anhydrous ethanol, contains 99.5 wt% ethanol, while hydrous ethanol contains only 95 wt% ethanol. Anhydrous is
required for vehicle use in the United States, as opposed to Brazil which uses hydrous. The key difference is an
azeotrope that is required to be crossed in the ethanol-water mixture to distill to anhydrous ethanol.
The actual design of our plant was driven by current manufacturing processes found in literature. The design is
split up into four main sections for simplicity which are milling, fermentation, separations, and utilities. Aspen
HYSYS was used to model the separations process unit while Microsoft Excel was used in the design of the
fermentation and milling units. All Process Flow Diagrams were produced in Microsoft Visio.

Design Basis
This venture seeks to produce anhydrous ethanol for domestic sale in Costa Rica and for export to the United
States market. In 2008, the Costa Rican government established a mandate dictating that all gasoline sold
domestically must contain 7% ethanol. The Costa Rican government expects to increase the percentage of ethanol
mixed with gasoline to 12% in the next 4-5 years. Over the past two decades the U.S. ethanol market has grown
dramatically. Between 1990 and 2007, U.S. ethanol consumption increased from 3.4 billion liters per year to 26
billion liters per year. Such a significant increase in demand is attributed to the implementation of the Clean Air Act
and the establishment of a renewable fuel standard in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The renewable fuel standard
requires that gasoline sold in the U.S. contain a renewable fuel standard, such as ethanol. The latter mandate
required 15 billion liters of renewable fuel in 2006, increasing to 28 billion liters in 2012. The Energy Independence
and Security Act of 2007 expanded the renewable fuel standard, reaching an ultimate peak of 136 billion liters in
2022 [3]. In 2009, Costa Rica produced 100 million liters of ethanol, 70 million of which were exported [4]. It is
important to note that these values are significantly less than the production values for the years preceding 2009
as a result of the global reduction in demand. It is anticipated that Costa Ricas annual ethanol export growth
mimics the average annual growth rate of the U.S. market of 38 percent. Domestic consumption is anticipated to
increase 10% annually. The proposed plant will seek to capture (based on 2015 values, when construction of the
plant will be completed) 5% of the domestic market, and 30% of total ethanol exports. In order to achieve this
goal, the present ethanol plant is designed to produce 178 million liters of ethanol per year. This information is
summarized in the attachment SCEP Design Basis vFP.

Project Economics
The total fixed capital cost of the current design is $465.9 million. The ISBL is $267.3 million and the OSBL is
$178.2 million, with an engineering and contingency cost of $20.5 million. This cost, and all other price data, were
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adjusted for Costa Ricas geographic location and 2011 dollars. The main product revenue from anhydrous ethanol
is $117 million annually, with additional revenues of $84 million and $3 million generated from the sale of
electricity and food or industrial grade carbon dioxide, respectively. The cost of cost of sugar-cane, our raw
material, adds up to $18.4 million annually. Other variable capital costs include waste removal at $6.1 million
annually and consumables at $3 million annually. All available capital cost streams can be viewed in the Cost of
Production spreadsheet in the attachments. Using the 7 year MACRS depreciation method, a 30% tax rate [5], and
capital available at 12%, the project is estimated to have a simple payback in just over 4 years with a net present
value (NPV) of $27.2 million and $240 million at 10 and 20 years, respectively. The 10 year internal rate of return
(IRR) is 13.5%, after 20 years IRR is equivalent to 19.7%. While the NPV and IRR financial estimates meet the
goals set out by the CFO at the beginning of the project, the simple payback period is one year shy of the CEOs
goal. Two areas of potential error that need to explored future are royalties cost for the Organsolv process used
(discussed in Bagasee Hydrolysis section) and the electricity regulatory statutes in Costa Rica. Additionally, the
values in this economic analysis may fluctuate slightly as all of the smaller components of the plant such as
pipelines undergo final design and sizing. The economic calculations are in the attachments Economic Analysis v4
and ICARUS Project Summary.

Plant Location
Costa Rica was chosen for a host country for several reasons. First, Costa Rica is a signatory of the Central
America and Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which facilitates free trade (duty free)
between the Unites States and Costa Rica. As per the ethanol provision of the CAFTA-DR, in alignment with the
Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), which has limited ethanol imports to the United States at 7% of US domestic
production, Costa Rica is allotted 117 million liters of ethanol exportation to the US annually. As of 2005 Costa Rica
was exporting about 57 million liters annually to the US, while the US market for fuel ethanol consumption has
increased by 11% per year from 1995 to 2004. Therefore, Costa Rica can certainly find a market for the addition
57 million liters annually it is allotted to export to the US. Other sugar rich countries such as India and Brazil are
not in the free trade agreement, and therefore are subjected to harsh tariffs on exports to the US. CAFTA-DR and
CBI also prohibit ethanol with origins other than the signatories (ethanol processed but not synthesized in the
signatories) from entering the US, therefore complete production in Costa Rica is necessary [1]. The one
unfortunate element of producing in Costa Rica is a lack of government incentives; however, it is possible that they
could appear with the increase in fuel blend requirements. With the strongest economy and most stable
government in Central America, Costa Rica made an excellent choice for plant location [5].
Currently, companies are developing ethanol production facilities in Costa Rica. One such company is United
Biofuels of America. While these facilities will provide competition to our production plant, the overall trend
towards less petroleum dependence within the country will provide business for many facilities. On the raw
materials side, there has been a steady increase in sugar cane production in Costa Rica over the last fifty years
[5].
The plant will be located in Liberia, Costa Rica as shown in Figure 1.
Liberia is the capital of the Guanacaste Province and is the home to
a population of over 35,000. Liberia was chosen within Costa Rica
due to its proximity to many sugar plantations, Pacific Ocean ports,
and the Pan-American Highway. Additionally, the Tempisque River
runs adjacent to the town, providing on site fresh water. The
proximity to the sugar plantations will reduce the shipping costs
associated with procurement of the raw sugar cane. The Pacific
Ocean will provide shipping access to foreign nations. The
Pan-American Highway will provide necessary infrastructure for
materials procurement and product shipping. Additionally, Costa
Rica offers potential for shipping from the Atlantic (Caribbean) coast
to add lucrative markets such as the European Union.
Figure 1. Plant location in Liberia

The design is planning to purchase a site just northwest of the


town, at the intersection of the Tempisque River and the
Pan-American Highway. This site will provide proximity to Liberia and neighboring towns for our plant staff, without
bringing the industrial complex to the cultural and beautiful city center. If adequate public transit does not already
exist, GICC will look to partner with city officials to develop a bus system between the city center and the plant.
This is just one of many plans GICC has explored to be a good corporate citizen in Costa Rica. The one square
kilometer site is estimated to cost $30 million.

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Guanacaste Province, is also home to one of Costa Ricas best technical universities, Invenio, which is located in
Canas. Invenio is a premier science and technology university. The Guanacaste Operations team is developing
methods to involve the current and future student body through internships on the development, and operation of
the plant [5]. In the future, GICC will look to Invenio for a source of engineers and other technical personnel to
run the plant.

Process Overview
The production of ethanol through the process of sugarcane fermentation is a three-step process which has been
used for many years in such sugar-rich countries, such as Brazil. The entire process may be divided into
milling/pretreatment, fermentation, and ethanol purification process units. In the milling section, the raw
sugarcane is washed and grinded to form a sucrose product which is then purified using crystallization. The
bagasse, which is the leftover product from the sugarcane milling, is separated out and passes through another
process in order to convert it into usable feedstocks. The bagasse is a cellulosic material which, in its raw form,
cannot be processed by the yeast cells present in the fermentation reactors. To create a usable feedstock from the
bagasse, ninety percent of the material undergoes an acid hydrolysis step which converts the material into a
glucose solution. The remaining ten percent is sent to steam boilers to be burned as fuel. The steam boilers use
the bagasse fuel as well as lignin removed in the milling process and field trash that accompanies the sugar cane
from the farmer, to generate enough steam to run the plant and generate plant electricity. Excess electricity
generation is sold on the market for additional revenue.
The glucose and sucrose solutions are then mixed before being sent to a storage tank prior to the fermentation
process unit. This storage tank allows the mill to run continuously while the fermentation unit runs as a staggered,
batch process. The sugar solution in the storage tank is then mixed with the growth medium for the fermentation
and is sent to an appropriate fermentation vessel which has been preloaded with the required yeast for the
process. The fermentation will run for twenty seven hours during which eighty seven percent of the sugar present
initially is consumed. At the conclusion of the twenty seven hour period, the batch vessel will contain a 12.5 wt. %
solution of ethanol in water which will be sent to another storage tank. This storage tank will feed into a
continuously operated hydrocyclone which separates the yeast from the reactor effluent. The purified solution will
then be sent to the ethanol purification unit while the yeast is mixed with water and pumped to a propagation
vessel to be regenerated for the next fermentation.
The solution entering the ethanol purification unit undergoes a series of distillation steps to separate out the
various components of the mixture. Significantly, carbon dioxide is separated from the solution and compressed
into cylinders for sale as beverage grade carbon dioxide. These distillations proceed until an azeotrope is formed at
95.63 wt. % ethanol at which point entrainment distillation using benzene is performed to produce anhydrous
ethanol with a purity of greater than 99%. Further information about the flow rates are available in the
attachments SCEP Design Basis vFP and Cost_of_Production.
The following pages contain a full three page PFD of the process. The first pages is Milling/Pre-treatment of
Sugarcane, which inputs raw sugarcane and creates a sucrose and glucose mixture to feed the fermenters. The
second page is Fermentation and Separations, which utilizes the sucrose and glucose mixture, fermenting it into an
ethanol solution, and then purifying that solution to the final product. The third page is Plant Utilities, which
documents the major utility equipment of the facility. Each will be explained further later in the paper, including an
equipment list.

Process Schedule
Production is scheduled for 300 days of the year, running continuously from February to early December. In
December, the plant will shut down for maintenance, cleaning, training, and vacation. In January, the plant can
optionally run the dehydration separation steps, bringing in hydrous ethanol as a feedstock and outputting
anhydrous product. February will resume full production. This longer than expected shut down is because
sugarcane does not grow all year round and can expire. Design Considerations: Milling

Design Considerations
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Milling and Pre-Treatment


Milling Results
Milling is a very standard process that has been used in the sugarcane industry for many years. With the success
that current process equipment has had, the proposed design was modeled very closely to what is in use today
[6]. A cane diffuser extracts the desired sucrose needed for ethanol production from the harvested sugarcane. The
sucrose mixture is then pretreated and concentrated to the correct concentration needed for efficient fermentation
to occur. Based on the amount of ethanol produced, a sugarcane feed of 147 tons per hour is required to
ultimately produce an 84 wt.% sucrose solution that will be mixed with the glucose solution that comes from the
bagasse hydrolysis process. Table 1 summarizes the equipment chosen for this process.
Table 1: Milling Equipment Summary
Equipment

Quantity

Feeder

Cane washer

Rotary Shredder

Cane Diffuser

Dewatering Mill

Plate and Frame Heat


Exchanger

Clarifier

Rotary Filter

Long Tube Rising Film


Evaporator
Condenser
Batch Vacuum Pans
(Crystallizers)

Function
An inclined solids conveyor is used to feed the sugarcane into the cane washer.
The sugarcane arrives in trucks. Feed is weighed and tested.
Removes dirt and debris from the sugarcane feed.
A medium duty shredder is used to shred the sugarcane feed in preparation for
sucrose extraction.
A cane diffuser, at 98% sucrose extraction capacity, is used to obtain the desired
amount of sucrose. This can diffuser contains 12 stages.
Reduce water content of the bagasse down to 50%.
For quick and efficient heating of the raw and clarified cane juice, this type of
heat exchanger is the best choice. It is inexpensive and easy to clean.
A clarifier is used to remove impurities from the desired juice.
Filters the mud from the clarifier to produce filtercake, which is used as fertilizer
in the fields
Concentrates the clarified cane juice before fermentation in order to achieve

adequate ethanol content, allowing reduction of energy consumption during


purification steps.

Condenses the final effect vapor

Produces sugar crystals from the syrup, forming a massecuite.

Centrifuges

Conveyer

Sucrose crystals are separated from the molasses and sent to the fermentation
tanks.
Belt conveyors are used to transport the sugarcane between equipment.

The total cost of the milling equipment is summarized in Table 2.

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Milling Equipment Cost


Equipment

Cost (USD)

Rotary Shredder

$203,645

Cane Diffuser

$1,728,847

Dewatering Mill

$156,074

Plate and Frame Heat Exchanger $804,407


Clarifier

$42,500

Rotary Filter

$134,827

Long Tube Rising Film Evaporator $1,622,596


Batch Vacuum Pans (Crystallizers) $1,108709
Centrifuges

$27,550

Total Cost

$5,829,155

A detailed discussion of the milling and pretreatment equipment and material streams is available in the
attachment Milling Material Streams.

Milling Assumptions
Key assumptions made for material balances and sizing were found in laboratory papers [28]. in sizing the
equipment, the multiple effect evaporators were assumed to be of equal size to make calculations simpler. In
reality, each evaporator would be smaller than the previous one.

Milling Discussion
Although the milling of sugarcane closely followed the standard process used today, the sucrose extraction step
and clarification step were researched and investigated for better options. As shown in Table 1, the sucrose
extraction step is completed by shredding the sugarcane and thus breaking the cells in which sucrose is located,
making it easier to extract. The clarification step is important because it removes the impurities from the cane juice
that would otherwise only interfere with the product purity.
Conventionally, roller mills are the equipment of choice used to extract the sucrose from sugarcane. However,
sucrose extraction by diffusion has recently emerged in the industry. The sugarcane goes through twelve stages
where it is heated co-currently by imbibition water, immediately raising the temperature of the cane to about 75 C
[7]. This heating even opens the cells that were not opened by the previous shredding process. Another advantage
of this heating is that sugar destroying bacteria cannot survive at this temperature. However, in a mill tandem, the
average temperature is between 30-35 C, where these bacteria are still active [7]. Extraction by diffusion boasts a
higher extraction percentage, lower operating and manufacturing costs, and better mechanical reliability. The ratio
of capital costs of a plant using a diffuser compared to one using a mill is about 1:1.5 [8]. One downside of
diffusion is that the shredding process is significant because the cane needs to be the right size for efficient
diffusion to occur. Therefore, a heavy-duty shredder is needed, which is initially more expensive and requires more
power. However, looking in the long run, the appeal of lower capital cost, lower operating and maintenance cost,
and high extraction percentages made diffusion the better alternative.
The clarification process is important because it removes the impurities from the cane juice and also neutralizes its
acidity. There were many options to consider: defecation (Ca(OH)2), magnesia (MgO2), sulphitation (lime and
SO2), carbonation (lime and CO2), and phosphatation (lime and H3PO4) [7]. Each differ in cost, the time needed
to precipitate the impurities, and product purity. With these factors in mind, calcium hydroxide, also known as milk
of lime, was chosen because its reaction time was the shortest and cost the least. The comparisons are shown in
Table 3.

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Table 3: Clarifying Agent Comparisons


Process

Clarifying Agent

Advantages

Disadvantages

-Most commonly used


Defecation

calcium Hydroxide

-Calcium phosphate floc sweeps


insoluble impurities

-Toxicity (however not significant)

-More flexible in temperature-wise


-If used in excess, ay result in
Magnesia

Magnesium oxide

-Good clarity in juice

increased scaling in
heaters/evaporators
-Slow reaction time

Sulphitation

-Provides better coagulation,

-Use results in heavier deposits in

especially in processing juice from

heaters, higher ash content of sugar

Lime + sulphur dioxide immature cane

-Better settling juice


-Precipitate calcium carbonate
Carbonation

Lime + carbon dioxide

entraps coloring matter, gums, and


other non-sugars

Phosphoric
acid + lime

-Precipitates part of
colloids and coloring
matter in juice

produced
-Expensive
- Times number of carbon dioxide
added affects process

-Difficult to filter precipitate,


tricalcium phosphate

Milling Possible Errors


There were a few sources of possible error in the milling process. When sizing the diffuser, the main equipment
piece in this section of the process, dimensions were extracted from existing diffuser models. Using the flow rate
of sugarcane needed to produce the desired amount of ethanol, the size of the diffuser was estimated. Also,
because the evaporators were assumed to be the same size, ICARUS produced a larger cost than it should be
(viewable in ICARUS equipment list attachment). These possible errors would affect the overall cost of the design.

Bagasse Hydrolysis Results


Bagasse consists of the fibers that come out of the diffuser and in industry, it is generally burned in a cogeneration
system that produces electricity to be used in different parts of the ethanol production process. However, recent
processes have begun to process the bagasse in a way that it can be added into the fermentation step to increase
ethanol production. About 90% of the bagasse produced is used to make ethanol while the remaining 10% is used
to generate electricity. This process pretreats the cleaned bagasse with 2 wt.% sulphuric acid [9] and steam and
through reactors, filters, distillation, and evaporation, a 25 wt.% glucose solution is produced. Sterilized sugarcane
juice is diluted and added to the glucose solution to before entering the fermenters. The addition of the bagasse
sugars increases ethanol production. Table 4 summarizes the equipment chosen for this process.

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Table 4: Bagasse Hydrolysis Equipment Summary


Equipment
Mixers

Quantity
5

Pre-Hydrolysis Reactor 1
Filters

Delignification Reactor

Distillation Column

Plate and Frame Heat


Exchangers
Multiple Effect
Evaporators

2
3

Function
Mixes steam, sulphuric acid, water, flashed liquor, and cane juice to the
bagasse mixture during pre-treatment and before mixture sent to fermenters.
Converts hemicellulose to pentose, forms glucose, furfural, and acetic acid.
Removes by-products: pentose liquor, unreacted solids, Organosolv
solvent/lignin mixtures.
Removes lignin from the mixture using ethanol Organosolv solvent.
Separates lignin from the Organosolv solvent, which is recycled back to the
delignification step
Heat and cool the mixtures to required temperatures for hydrolysis and
filtration.
Concentrates the mixture.

All pretreatment and hydrolysis equipment will be made of stainless steel because sulphuric
acid is being used.
The total cost of the bagasse hydrolysis equipment is summarized in Table 5 below.
Bagasse Hydrolysis Equipment Cost
Equipment

Cost (USD)

Mixers

$251.970

Pre-Hydrolysis Reactor

$89,338

Filters

$1,112,318

Delignification Reactor

$89,338

Distillation Column

$379,148

Plate and Frame Heat Exchangers $806,381


Multiple Effect Evaporators

$973,558

Total Cost

$3,702,051

A detailed discussion of the bagasse hydrolysis equipment and material streams is available in the attachment
Milling Material Streams.

Bagasse Hydrolysis Possible Errors


Possible sources of error in the Organosolv process stem from the fact that the process has yet to be produced on
an industrial scale. Therefore, all data has been interpolated from laboratory data. This would potentially affect the
final glucose yield in the process as well as the overall cost of the design.

Fermentation

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Fermentation Results
The fermentation operation was based on standard batch processes using the well characterized yeast strain,
Saccaromyces Cerevisiae. The glucose and sucrose solution from the milling section is sent to two, 100,000 L
storage tanks which will provide a buffer between the continuous milling process and the batch fermentation
process. As one of our 46 fermentation vessels becomes available for filling, the sugar solution from the storage
tanks is pumped out of storage, mixed with the required yeast nutrients, and sent into the fermentation vessel.
Yeast culture is then pumped to the fermenter from propagation vessels which are the last stage in our yeast
recycle loop. The reaction will proceed within the fermenter for 27 hours which is based on literature values. When
the reaction is completed, the solution will pass to one of another two, 100,000 L storage tanks and then to a 41.7
cm diameter, continuous hydrocyclone. This hydrocyclone will separate the yeast from the product mixture which
will then be mixed in a 200 L mixing tank to a 50 wt % water slurry for pumping to one of 9 propagation
fermenters. This yeast separation step allows for recycle of our used yeast. Meanwhile the remaining product
solution is passed to the separations unit for purification. A summary of all required equipment is given in Table 6.
Table 6: Fermentation Equipment Summary
Designation
S-101,
S-102
P-101,
P-102
F-1
P-500
S-500,
S-501
P-550,
P-551

Equipment Type

Description

2 x 100,000 L Storage tank

Holds sugar solution prior to fermentation

Pump

Pump fermentation medium into fermenters

46 x 100,000 L, Jacketed Fermentation


Tanks
Pump
2 x 100,000 L Storage Tanks
Pump

Perform fermentation
Pump fermentation product into post-bast storage
Hold fermentation product prior to continuous separation
processes
Pump fermentation product from storage tank 15 through
hydrocyclone

C-1

Hydrocyclone

Separate yeast solids from fermentation product

V-3

Yeast-Water Mixing Tank

Create yeast slurry for pumping

P-4

Pump

Pump yeat slurry to propagation vessels

F-2

9 x Propagation Vessels

Regenerate yeast culture for recycle to fermentation vessels

Details pertaining to the design of the equipment listed in table 6 can be found in the attachment entitled
Fermentation Calculations.

Mode of Operation
Both continuous and batch processes were considered for our fermentation units. The continuous process was
based on immobilized cell bed reactors [10] though there were also examples of fluidized bed reactors [11] which
also performed the desired process. The batch process, on the other hand, was very simple in that it only involved
loading the specified amount of material and reacting these components for a specified period of time. Both modes
of operation were compared in deciding our final process. A continuous process such as an Immobilized cell bed
offered a higher output rate for a given capital investment while also allowing easy interfacing with the rest of the
plant. The batch process, in comparison, offered easy cleaning, flexible unit operation, and easier process control
due to the simple reactor design.
When comparing the two modes, our team decided to pursue batch operation for our fermentation units. This
decision was largely motivated by the simplicity of the batch reactor and the lack of industrial examples of
continuous fermentation. Given the current economic climate, it would be imprudent to pursue a risky venture
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such as continuous fermentation without significant experience to draw upon so it was decided that batch
fermentation was the best route to take. In order to minimize costs in other areas of the plant, it was decided that
though the fermentation units will be run as a batch operation, the units will be staggered so as to allow
continuous operation in the milling and separation processes. The fermentation vessels will be preceded and
followed by large storage tanks which will serve to buffer the small variations in flow rate to or from the vessels.
This will allow the overall plant to continuously produce ethanol.

Choice of Bacteria
In deciding what type of organism to use, there were two main options. These two options were Saccharomyces
Cerevisiae and Z. Mobilis. Saccharomyces Cerevisiae is a strain of yeast and is the most widely used organism in
the beverage and fuel ethanol industry. This organism is widely known and there is a wide range of literature
detailing the optimization of its alcohol production. Yeast produces alcohol in concentrations of approximately 10%
and can use a wide range of substrates as feed which simplifies the fermentation growth medium. This upper limit
for ethanol production is due to the toxicity of ethanol toward the yeast and is the major disadvantage of this
organism.
Z. Mobilis is a strain of bacteria which has become a major focus of research in recent years. This recent focus has
come about due to a higher ethanol tolerance when compared to the traditional S. Cerevisiae strain of yeast. This
higher ethanol tolerance allows more efficient use of batch units as the process can produce more concentrated
solutions of ethanol. The major disadvantage of Z. Mobilis is a narrow range of substrates which may be digested
for fermentation. This disadvantage is likely a minor issue for sugarcane fermentation, however, due to the simple
sugars (glucose and fructose) which are produced from the milling process. In the end, it was decided that S.
Cerevisiae was the best organism for the process. Z. Mobilis is largely a laboratory-scale strain as there are very
few examples of its use in industrial applications. Z. Mobilis is an option that should be under ongoing evaluation in
the future, however, due to the promise it shows as an ethanol producer.

Growth Medium
The growth medium is a very important part of fermentation because without supplementary nutrition, yeast
metabolism and ethanol production is severely hampered. The most important nutrition requirements for
fermentation are a Nitrogen source to provide raw material for protein synthesis and a source of Magnesium which
allows for rapid yeast growth [12]. The original growth medium to be used in our process is shown in table 6 [11].
This medium, however, was adapted from laboratory practices and was found to be uneconomical on an industrial
scale. The laboratory medium was quoted at more than $20 million per year of supplementary nutrients and this
was determined to be unacceptable for our commercial process. The most significant contribution to the price was
due to the presence of 5 g/L of peptone in the growth medium which was quoted at around five dollars per
kilogram or $19.3 million per year.
Table 7: Laboratory Scale Fermentation Medium
Material

Price ($/kg) Concentration (g/L) Yearly Cost ($)

Yeast Extract

0.22 [13]

846,450

Peptone

5.03 [13]

19,352,925

Calcium Chloride

0.16 [14]

2.8

344,736

Ammonium Chloride

.23 [15]

1.5

265,477

Potassium Chloride

0.11 [13]

1.2

101,574

Magnesium Sulfate

0.12 [16]

0.65

60,021

Potassium Dihydrogen Sulfate 0.91 [17]

1.5

1,050,367

TOTAL

22,021,675

There has been some work in optimizing growth media for industrial applications, however, and Pereira et. Al. [18]
have performed an in depth investigation of this problem. They found that the growth medium presented in Table
8 allowed for optimal yeast nutrition and performance in industrial applications for a minimal price. The savings in

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this instance are largely a result of substituting corn steep liquor, a complex nitrogen source, for yeast extract and
peptone. Corn steep liquor was quoted at five cents per kilogram [19] and offers a significant economic advantage
over typical laboratory supplements. This is the growth medium that was chosen for our fermentation units.
Table 8: Industrial Scale Fermentation Medium
Material

Price ($/kg) Concentratino (g/L) Yearly Cost ($)

Corn Steep Liquor 0.05 [19]

44.3

1,704,442

Urea

0.46 [13]

2.3

814,131

Magnesium Sulfate 0.12 [16]

3.8

350, 892

Copper (II) Sulfate 0.18 [20]

0.03

4,155

TOTAL

2,873,620

Due to the low volume present in the propagation units, we decided to use a laboratory scale growth medium for
our propagation step. The cost of material for this step is insignificant given the scale of our overall process. This
growth medium is presented in table 9 [7].
Table 9: Industrial Scale Fermentation Medium
Material
Yeast Extract

Price ($/kg) Concentratino (g/L) Yearly Cost ($)


0.22 [13]

0.0085

106.03

Ammonium Chloride 0.23 [15]

0.001313

17.12

Magnesium Sulfate

0.12 [16]

0.000101

0.68

Calcium Chloride

0.16 [14]

0.0000606

0.54

TOTAL

124.39

Yeast Separation Method


Separation Method After the fermentation step, it is desirable to remove the yeast solids from the reactor product
before sending the stream to the distillation unit. This prevents the yeast from interfering with any of the
distillation calculations but also allows for the possibility of yeast recycle back to the reactor vessel. For the
separation, we considered two options. First we considered a disc-stack centrifuge. This type of centrifuge is
widely used in the industry and offered an attractive, high efficiency separation. This unit requires the use of
centripetal force to separate the yeast solids from the outlet stream and this was the main disadvantage with this
option. Spinning forty kilograms of solution per second was an undesirable situation and the high shear stresses
inside a disc-stack centrifuge may have caused damage to the yeast which would limit the efficiency of the recycle
stream.
The other option for this separation was the use of a hydrocyclone. A hydrocyclone is a cone with the inlet at the
top and outlets at the top and bottom for the liquid and solids respectively. The separation is driven by the
pressure drop in the system with the mechanism being the vortex created in the interior of the unit. Our specific
outlet composition appears to be on the lower end of the range for which hydrocyclones apply according to Towler
[21]. It should also be noted that our solids concentration will likely be greater than that quoted in the flow sheets
due to excess yeast culture growth in both the propagation and fermentation steps. Due to this, hydrocyclones
should do an adequate job of separating the yeast from the ethanol product. Hydrocyclones offer a number of
benefits including minimal moving parts (safety and maintenance), low energy requirements compared to
centrifugation, and cheap capital costs. For these reasons, a hydrocyclone was chosen for our yeast separation
step.

Yeast Propagation
The option of recycling yeast was explored in our design process. The yeast would be separated in the
hydrocyclone, then mixed with water into a 50 wt % slurry. This slurry would then be pumped to a fermentation
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vessel where the yeast would be regenerated to form the culture for the main fermentation tanks. This recycle
process was compared to buying new yeast to pitch into the fermentation tanks instead of regenerating the used
yeast. We found that fresh yeast may be acquired for approximately $2/kg [22] and, with only 35 kg required per
batch, this was an interesting option for the plant. It was found that pursuing yeast recycle and propagation was
likely more economical than the alternative, however, due to relatively equal capital cost requirements but
advantageous operating costs. Fresh dried yeast was found to require the use of a tank to soak the yeast in order
to activate the culture for fermentation. This increased the capital costs beyond those initially estimated. Buying
yeast would also cost at least an additional $730/day extra when comparing the cost of the yeast versus the
foregone ethanol production due to sugar consumption in propagation. Due to the advantageous economics, we
have decided to install a propagation step in our plant to regenerate used yeast.

Fermentation Assumptions
Based on the decisions discussed in the previous sections, a set of assumptions was developed for the
fermentation section. Information for input prices and key assumptions for the fermentation reaction are given in
tables 10 and 11.
Table 10: Fermentation Reaction Data
Fermentation Time

27 hours [10]

Reaction Yield

87%

Heat of Reaction

523,000 J/kg glucose consumed

Final Ethanol Concentration 21.5 wt% [10]


Reaction Profile

Constant Rate

Table 11: Pricing Data


Material

Price ($/kg)

Ammonium chloride

0.23 [15]

Calcium chloride

0.16 [14]

Copper (II) sulfate

0.18 [20]

Corn steep liquor

0.05 [19]

Magnesium sulfate

0.12 [16]

Peptone

5.03 [13]

Potassium chloride

0.11 [13]

Potassium dihydrogen sulfate 0.91 [17]


Urea

0.46 [13]

Yeast Extract

0.22 [13]

Fermentation Possible Errors


There are a number of aspects of the design of our fermentation process unit which deserve further research and
verification. The most significant source of possible error is the assumptions for the actual reaction. Most
significantly, the reaction time and final ethanol concentration may prove different upon scale up from laboratory
scale. The industrial scale yeast growth medium shown in table 8 may also affect the reaction time and final
concentration. The cooling requirements for the reactor are also a likely source of error. The reaction profile was
assumed to be linear for simplicity and this is known to be incorrect. An actual fermentation reaction will have a
slow build up stage, an exponential growth stage, and a slow nutrition limited stage. Therefore, during the
exponential growth phase, the cooling requirements will likely be much greater than estimated. All of these
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sources of error are centered on the actual chemical reaction characteristics. Therefore, it is recommended that a
small reactor be used to characterize these key variables prior to the final build.

Separations
Separation Results
Research on industrial ethanol-water separations processes yielded an initial design for the production of both
hydrous and anhydrous ethanol. However, such industrial separation processes also produce a number of
byproducts, such as fusel oil, which ultimately reduce the yield of hydrous ethanol [23]. As the fundamental
premise of this project is to produce as much ethanol as possible from a given quantity of sugar cane feedstock,
the proposed design differs significantly from traditional ethanol separation processes. The separations for this
method were modeled using Aspen Hysys. The model is presented in Figure 2. A full output of the Hysys
simulation is available in the attachment Separations Workbook v2.

Figure 2. Simulation in Aspen HYSYS

It was deduced that the most effective means of achieving the desired ethanol product purity was to design a
separations process that consists of two parts: 1) the distillation of hydrous ethanol and 2) the dehydration of
hydrous ethanol by an azeotropic distillation process [24]. The azeotropic distillation design utilizes benzene as an
entrainer [25]. From this method, the desired quality (99.9 mol% ethanol) and quantity (19,500 kg/h) of product
is achieved. The recommended design is presented in the Fermentation and Separations PFD and Figure 2. Table
12 summarizes the equipment utilized in the separation process.

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Table 12: Separation Equipment Summary


Equipment

Description

Label
Flash Drum 1

Initial flash separation to remove CO2 from the fermentation stream.

Flash Drum 2

Secondary flash separation to return ethanol vapors to the process steam.

Flash Drum 3

Purification of CO2

Flash Drum 4

Flash separation to recycle benzene for reuse in the dehydration process.

Rectifier

Removes the majority of water in the product stream and heavier impurities (dextrose and
glycol)

Distillation

Purifies the product stream of the lighter impurities (acetaldehyde, water).

Dehydration

Removes water from the hydrous ethanol to make the anhydrous ethanol using entrainment.

Stripper

Removes the benzene from the anhydrous product to be recycled.

Decanter

Separates benzene and ethanol from waste water.

From this design, not only are the ethanol production quality and quantity requirements met, but byproduct carbon
dioxide (CO2) produced from the fermentation process is successfully separated and purified to 99.9 mol% and
produced at a rate of 5200 kg/h. This process introduces an additional $415 per hour cash flow based upon
present carbon dioxide prices. This provides not only an additional revenue stream for the plant but also a hedge
against predicted new regulations on carbon dioxide emissions.
The total cost of the separations and purification process is summarized in Table 13.
Table 13: Separations
Equipment Costs
Equipment Cost (2011 USD)
Distillation

$1,089,500

Rectifier

$1,263,100

Dehydrator

$1,837,100

Stripper

$133,500

Flash Drum 1 $289,800


Flash Drum 2 $48,000
Flash Drum 3 $90,300
Flash Drum 4 $215,700
Decanter

$262,100

TOTAL

$5,229,100

The sizing calculations for the separations vessels as well as one of the pumps, one of the compressors, and one
of the heat exchangers are available in the attachments BENZ STRIPPER, DEHYDRATOR, DISTILLATION_SIZE,
RECTIFIER, Phase_Splitters, P-800, C-2, and E-200.

Separations Assumptions
One of the fundamental assumptions of the separations processes was the composition of the feed from the
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fermentation units. After consulting a literature source [28] utilizing a similar fermentation design to the one
suggested in this report, and accounting for the ethanol production of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the
inlet composition as given in Table 14 was determined.
Table 14: Separation Process
Feed Composition
Component
Water

Mole fraction
0.928

Carbon Dioxide 0.014


Ethanol

0.055

Glycerol

0.001

Acyl Alcohol

0.000

Dextrose

0.000

Acetaldehyde

0.001

Furfural

0.001

A second assumption was implementing the NRTL fluid package. From the Aspen HYSYS manual, it was deduced
that this fluid package would best represent the components in the separation process.

Separations Discussion
The final separations and purification design implements three rectifying columns, one distillation column, four
flash drums and a decanter, as summarized by the Fermentation and Separations PFD and table 12. The flash
drums serve a threefold process in the process: 1) to eliminate volatile components from the product stream, 2)
purify byproduct carbon dioxide and 3) purify recycle streams. Flash drums are preferred in separation processes
as they retain significantly lower capital, operation and maintenance costs, as evident in Table 13.
For the hydrous ethanol purification process, a rectifying and distillation column are implemented in series. The
rectifying column removes water and heavy components, while the distillation column purifies the product stream
to a composition of 91 wt% ethanol a value slightly under the ethanol-water azeotrope composition of 95.6 wt%
ethanol [23]. The choice to utilize a rectifying column was made for both economic and practical reasons. As
demonstrated by the Fermentation and Separations PFD, the distillate vapor collected from the rectifying column is
sent directly to the distillation column. Maintaining the feed as a vapor ensures a more effective separation of the
ethanol from water and other undesired components. Furthermore, such a design also reduces the energy demand
of the distillation column reboiler.
The ethanol dehydration unit consists of two rectifying columns in series. The first column of the dehydration unit
is fed with two steams: 1) hydrous ethanol and 2) a recycle stream containing benzene. The addition of benzene,
which acts as an entrainer, leads to the formation of a ternary azeotrope that possesses a boiling point significantly
different from the boiling point of ethanol. During the azeotropic distillation process, the ternary azeotrope would
distills to remove water. Then the binary azeotrope distills to remove any benzene, resulting in 99.9 mol% ethanol
as the bottoms product. The distillate water, ethanol and benzene mixture is fed to a decanter, where organic and
aqueous phases are separated. The aqueous phase is subsequently fed to a secondary rectifying column where
wastewater is collected and benzene is recycled.
Despite its deleterious health effects and environmental effect, benzene was chosen as the entraining agent.
Although a number of alternatives act to form a ternary azeotrope with ethanol and water, such as cyclohexane, it
was determined that benzene proves to be the most cost effective, as it requires the least amount of material to
form the desired ternary azeotrope. It is important to note that 0.33 kg/h of benzene exit the dehydration unit in
the anhydrous ethanol stream. Relative to the quantity of ethanol in the stream (19500kg/h), this quantity is
minimal. Quantitatively, benzene in the anhydrous product is 0.0015 vol%. This is significantly below the
Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) maximum limit of 0.62 vol% stated in the Mobile Source Air Toxics Rule
[26].

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Separations Possible Error


The likely sources of error in the separation process design pertain to the validity of the initial assumptions.
Specifically, it is possible that the composition of the fermentation feed stream 1) retains different mole
compositions or 2) addition (or fewer) components from those presented in Table 14. Furthermore, it is presumed
that the NRTL equation of state accurately describes the vapor-liquid equilibrium (VLE) of all of the components in
the separations process. From the simulation output, it is evident that the NRTL fluid package does indeed capture
the VLE relationships accurately for simple binary mixtures of ethanol and water. However, for multicomponent
distillation systems (such as those in the hydrous purification system) it is likely that some error arises naturally
from the inability of NRTL to accurately predict VLE data for such complex mixtures.

Utilities
The plant utilities are displayed in the third page of the PDF, entitled Plant Utilities. A list of the equipment shown
is below in table 15.
Table 16: Boiler Feed Specifications
Fuel

Feeds (kg/hr) Moisture % LHV (MJ/kg) Heat (MJ/hr)

Bagasse 2101

50

7.52

15,706

Lignin

3851

50

12.36

30,290

TOTAL

8402

11.425

95,995

Heat Exchanger Network


To economize utilities production, two heat exchanger networks were developed. One is based on the milling and
pretreatment area and the other on the separations area. Together, the two networks save the plant the need for
an additional 22,500 kW of heating and cooling (45,000 kW total), by using internal heat exchangers. These heat
exchanger networks assumed a Tmin of 20 and can be viewed in the attachment Heat Exchanger Networks.
The calculations are with the related sections of the plant in the attachments Milling Material Streams, Separations
Workbook v2, and Utilities Streams.

Co-Generation Plant
Many sugarcane ethanol plants in the world utilize other materials besides the main sugar cane feedstock for utility
stream production [27]. Our plant will separate up to 90% of the waste bagasse material to be processed through
hydrolysis and delignification process that will produce glucose liquor. The glucose liquor will be fed to the
fermentation process to increase ethanol production. Produced lignin will be added to the remaining 10% of the
bagasse material for combustion in the steam boilers as can be seen in the Milling/Pre-treatment PFD and the
Plant Utilities PFD. These splits were based on research studies our team found on the utilization of the bagassse
not only as a fuel, but also as an additional source of ethanol. Research suggests that these operational splits will
allow for complete onsite electricity and steam generation for the production facility in addition to increasing
ethanol yields by up to 26% [28].
The size of the co-generation plant was based on several assumptions about the feed streams and equipment. The
plant will make use of the remaining 10% of the bagasse, mixed with the lignin and some of the field trash, excess
crop material that is often a waste stream for the farmer, to generate steam. Table 16 contains values from
literature and the material balances regarding the boiler fuel [28].
Table 16 Based on steam generation literature for bagasse combustion, the boilers are expect to run at an
efficiency of 85% [33]. The cogeneration system will be backed up with #2 Fuel Oil for emergencies, startup, and
shutdown. The fuel oil has a lower heating value of 39.9 MJ/L. Current designs include a single high pressure
steam (HPS) stream utilized throughout the plant. The HPS will be maintained at 500, 20 bar as super saturated
steam. our boilers will generate 8.7 million kg of HPS per hour. Based on a 872,000 kg per hour throughput of
water and steam, the plant will require 10 field erected boilers. Calculations related to the co-generation steam
generation are available in the attachment Utility Streams.

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According to EPA studies, the combustion of sugarcane bagasse will not be a significant source of nitrogen oxides
and sulfur oxides. It will, however, provide a significant source of volatile organic compounds and particulate
matter. The boiler is equipped with wet scrubbers to maintain the boiler exhaust to within environmental
regulations. For this matter, in absence of finding environmental regulations from Costa Rica, we have followed the
regulations of the US EPA. The scrubbers will also provide relief when using the reserve #2 fuel oil [29].
Several assumptions were also considered in sizing the electrical generation portion of the plant. After use in
operation, the remaining steam will drive electrical turbines (at 98% efficiency) to generate electricity. After the
electrical turbines, the steam should contain just enough energy to remain saturated steam vapor. Ultimately, the
vapor will be condensed to a liquid in a shell and tube heat exchanger to preheat water entering the boiler. To
calculate the energy that can be convert by the steam turbines, it was the energy per hour of the steam leaving
the boiler was calculated. Then the base energy (the energy of the water the steam will be after the turbines), and
the process steam energy requirements were subtracted from the energy per hour value. Finally, it was assumed
that the steam loop would undergo 50% losses of energy to the environment throughout the system loop. The
remaining energy was converted at 98% efficiency to electricity [33]. Calculations related to the co-generation
electricity generation are available in the attachment Utility Streams.
Additionally, it was estimated that the plant would be capable of selling electricity at a price of $0.08 per kilowatt
hour. This is based on an industrial and commercial average electricity price in Costa Rica of $0.12 per kilowatt
hour. Since the electricity is highly regulated a conservative estimate was chosen [30].
The electrical generation portion of the plant is estimated at a rating of 163 MW. A tighter ultimate build on the
plant will restrict losses, increasing electrical production. This estimated generation will surpass the expected plant
requirement of 19 MW, allowing the plant to sell up to 144 megawatts (MW) of electricity per hour. Based on the
electricity price in Costa Rica of 0.08 cents per kilowatt hour, the plant can generate an extra revenue stream of
$84 million per year selling electricity [30]. The capital cost of the cogeneration plant is estimated at $143 million
installed.

Water Treatment Plant


Treatment Plant In order to provide clean water for plant processes, the plant will utilize a two stage ion exchange
water treatment process. The plant will be equipped with 40 units capable of cleaning 52 cubic meters of water
per hour. The sizing of these facilities is based on the water recycle ratios and process water needs described
below. These treatment units will be used to clean Tempisque River water for use as steam, cooling water, and
washing water. The units will also be used to clean wash water after use in the milling process prior to disposal in
the Tempisque River. The total cost of the water treatment equipment is estimated at $4.5 million installed.
Calculations related to the water treatment plant are available in the attachment Utility Streams.

In-Process Water Recycling


While the design would optimally recycle all of the in-process heating and cooling water, it is realistically infeasible
due to fluctuations in production, fowling, and degradation. Therefore, initial set points have set the cooling water
at a recycle rate of 90% and the steam boiled water at a recycle rate of 98% (this is due to already accounted for
pipe losses). Washing water will be recycled at a rate of 50%. By these ratios the plant will withdraw
approximately 675 m3 per hour of water from the Tempisque River. This water will be approximately 18 when
drawn from the river. After plant startup, studies will evaluate these recycle ratios, optimizing them to save utility
costs. Calculations related to the water recycling are available in the attachment Utility Streams.

Cooling Pond
After any necessary cleaning, water planned for ejection into the Tempisque River will be held in a cooling pond for
a period of a week. In accordance with the US Clean Water Act and Costa Rican environmental regulations, these
streams will be too warm to be dumped into a river containing any wildlife. To remedy this, the plant will use a
cooling pond, modeled off the one used by the Central Utility Plant at Northwestern University. Reject cooling
water and steam at the university is emitted into a man-made lagoon allowing it circulate and cool prior to
rejoining waters of Lake Michigan. Our plant will use a 150,000 m3 cooling pond, allowing the reject water to cool
to ambient air temperature before returning it to the river. This will offset damage that water at the incorrect
temperature could do to the river ecosystem [31]. The total cost of the pond is estimated at just under a million
dollars installed. Calculations related to the pond are available in the attachment Utility Streams.

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Safety
The design team has developed the entire plant design thus far with safety as the primary concern. Therefore an
effort has been made to reduce the use of carcinogenic and other health hazardous chemicals within the plant.
The two exceptions are benzene used for the entrainment distillation and the refrigerant used for the CO2
purification process. The refrigerant was required for cooling to extreme temperatures to ensure CO2 separation
from the remainder of the stream. We chose to use the refrigerant R-500, for its properties and common uses
[32]. For safety precautions, the refrigerant is in a self contained loop where it cools the process stream in a heat
exchanger, then is re-cooled in a condenser. The closed loop system helps to prevent venting the refrigerant, which
acts as a greenhouse gas.
Other safety features include adequate eye wash and safety shower locations throughout the operations area for
emergency use. Emergency lighting will be supplied on a separate battery and circuitry from plant electricity, and
all elevated areas will have appropriate railings and multiple escapes in the event of an emergency. All employees
will have full safety training starting their first day of work onsite, and prior to any work they will complete an area
specific safety tutorial highlighting the areas specific hazards and safety operations.
On the design side, all pressure vessels were design to the ASME BPV code and are equipped with pressure relief
devices. All valves and rotating equipment were designed with fail positions to prevent dangerous situations such
as pressure build up in power or control loss 26 situations. Since our facility will be operating with extensive rolling
and crushing machinery in the milling section, those machines will be designed with guards and two-handed
required operating controls to keep appendages away from the pinch points. Additionally, throughout the indoor
processes of the plant, mostly the milling and bagasse hydrolysis steps, the air handling system will be designed to
adequately remove dust and other particulate matter from the air to prevent dust explosions. All electrical
equipment will be rated for anti-spark areas and electrical rooms will be pressure positive to prevent dust from
travelling into them. Later in the process when there is an extensive use of hot and cold streams, the design
includes pipe insulation, even if it is not needed to maintain process temperature, but to protect operators from
accidental scalds and burns.
Finally, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be a must. All operators will be outfitted with hard hats, chemical
resistant work gloves, chemical goggles, fire and chemical retardant jump suits and steel toed boots. Those in the
milling area will be outfitted with ear protection as well, as the machines will be loud. Lastly, a smoke free site and
a cell phone ban in vehicles will help prevent industrial accidents.

Reliability
Several measures have already been incorporated to increase the reliability of the plant. First is a through storage
system necessary to take the batch-wise fermentation and have it run continuously with the remainder of the
plant. The storage system offers two days of production storage before and after the fermentation, and prior to
the entrainment final dehydration step. This will allow for the separations processes to continue running for two
days in the event of a fermentation issue. Additionally, in the fermenter sizing, the calculations allotted for each
fermenter to be taken out of service and cleaned for 4 hours at the end of each fermentation run. This will
increase product quality. Lastly, a large holding area was sized for incoming sugarcane with the capacity to store
up to a week supply at a time. The design specifications of the storage vessels can be viewed in the attachment
Storage Sizes.
Another reliability design feature is redundant pumps. Not only was each pump purchased in double or triple, most
of the pumps throughout the plant share a make, type, size, and rating with several other pumps. This way, if one
is broken and its reserve is broken, it may be able to use a brother pumps reserve.
Lastly, as the project cost was being completed, seeing that we were on target for payback, we provided liberal
corrosion allowances and materials selection on material to improve the lifetime of the equipment.

Process Controls
Figure 3 is an in-depth process controls diagram for the refrigeration loop, used in the CO2 processing equipment.
Stream FD2-V is a vapor stream, containing CO2, water, ethanol, and other byproducts. For the final CO2 bottling
stream, pure CO2 is required, with impurities only in the few parts-per-million. The stream is at 25 and 1.4 bar,
with a flowrate of about 5300 kg per hour. To achieve the desired purity, contents of FD2-V will be chilled to -78,

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then sent through a flash separator, isolating the CO2. We are looking at the chilling process, FD2-VC (leaving the
diagram), takes the stream to the flash separator.

Figure 3. Process Control PFD

To chill the stream, we are using Refrigerant-500, which is in the Refrigerant and Refrig Recycle streams at 100
wt% concentration. The R-500 is fed to the heat exchanger at -90, cools the FD2-V, and leaves the heat
exchanger at 10. A compressor unit re-cools the refrigerant to -90. Due to fluctuations in previous steps, it is
possible that FD2-V will not always be at the same flowrate and temperature. It is key to know the values of the
incoming stream to ensure enough cooling without too much cooling. If FD2-VC is too warm, the separator will not
work as well, and the CO2 will be filled with impurities. If FD2-VC is too cold, then CO2 will sublime, no separation
will occur, and no CO2 will be captured.
The first set of control systems controls the flowrate of the refrigerant based on the inlet flowrate and temperature
of FD2-V. A flow meter (FE1) and a temperature element (TE1) on FD2-V are read by a flow transmitter (FT1) and
a temperature transmitter (TT1), respectively, sending a signal to a flow indicating controller (FIC1) and a
computer, which using the information, calculates the correct flow rate needed of refrigerant for the heat
exchanger. The computer and the FIC send a signal to a flow controlling automated screw valve (FV1) which
controls the flow of the refrigerant. The screw valve is fail closed, so that in a situation where some power is lost,
but the pump still has power, the valve will stop refrigerant flow, causing the pressure relief (explained below) on
the pump to circulate fluid rather than send it through the condenser.
The refrigerant cycles in a loop, which is driven by a centrifugal pump. If the valve is sufficiently closed, or some
other back up occurs, increasing the pressure in the pipe, a relief valve (V-5) will be triggered. This relief valve will
signal an alarm, and circulate the refrigerant around the pump, not causing excess pressure on the valve or the
compressor. The alarm will notify personnel to rectify the situation.
An additional instrument is on the refrigerant leaving the condenser. Since the computer calculating the flow of the
refrigerant is assuming the refrigerant is within certain temperature constraints, there is a temperature element
(TE3), a temperature transmitter (TT3) and a temperature indicating controller (TIC3) in the refrigerant line. This
sensor is equipped with both high and low alarms to indicate the operators of a failed compressor.
If the refrigerant is returning colder than expected, the work of the compressor can be adjusted. This is controlled
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Sugar Cane Ethanol Plant - processdesign

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by temperature element (TE2), a temperature transmitter (TT2) and a temperature indicating controller (TIC2)
which adjusts a variable speed drive on the drive shaft of the compressor. A cold refrigerant recycle will slow the
drive as less compression is needed. A warm recycle will increase drive speed for more compression. Finally there
is a check valve (V-2) on FD2-V ensuring it does not back feed the previous flash separator. There are also two
check valves in the refrigeration loop; one to prevent back feed into the compressor (V-3) and one to prevent the
compressor from back feeding the pump (V-4).

Conclusions
Economic analysis of the proposed plant design, on a twenty year basis, yields a net present value (NPV) of $240
million, a rate of return of 19.7% and a simple pay-back period of 4.10 years. For traditional chemical plants, this
rate of return would be questionably large. However, the proposed plant produces large quantities of excess
electricity, as a result of the cogeneration design, sold to local power plants for a substantial profit. Thus, the rate
of return in this specific instance is not unreasonable. Moreover, the simple pay-back period is less than the period
desired by GICC executive management. The gross margin percentage after plant startup (excluding electricity
production) is estimated as 70% indicating strong financial plant performance relative to other chemical plants,
which typically operate in the range of 40-50%. Government requirements to blend traditional gasoline with
ethanol have resulted in a dramatic increase in the global ethanol market in the past two decades. Market analysis
indicates that this trend is likely to continue into the coming decades. In addition to the obvious financial potential
of this project, the design implements technologies to reduce its environmental impact. Specifically, carbon dioxide
capture from the fermentation tanks as well as a cogeneration plant. The proposed plant design is therefore
strongly recommended for future development to diversify GICC product portfolio.

Recommendations
The following recommendations offer methods to further enhance profitability of the proposed plant. From our
present calculations, whereby 10% of the produced bagasse is diverted to the boiler system to produce steam (in
addition to lignin and field trash), 163 MW of electricity is generated. This is sufficient to not only power the entire
plant operation, but yields 144 MW of excess electricity that is sold to local power production companies for
substantial profits. It is recommended that the fraction of bagasse that is sent to the boilers be optimized based
upon economic conditions. For instance, if the demand for ethanol (either domestically or internationally) is large,
more bagasse should be sent to the fermentation tanks to yield a higher ethanol production, thereby relying solely
on lignin and field trash to generate steam.
Given the seasonal nature of the sugar cane crop, it is suggested to explore the option of preserving sugar cane so
as to enable the ethanol production plant to operate throughout the year. Furthermore, in the rare event that
sugar cane crops do not achieve their predicted yields, pursuing alternative sources of glucose, such as corn, to
supplement sugar cane is recommended. For the current design, waste removal costs are in excess of $6 million
a significant fraction of the total plant operating cost. To reduce this cost, it is recommended that any opportunities
to sell byproduct pentose liquor are thoroughly explored.

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Attachments
SCEP Design Basis vFP
Economic Analysis
Cost of Production
Effluent Streams
ICARUS Printouts
Material Balances
Heat Exchanger Networks
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