Washington, D.C. : United States. Dept. of Energy. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy ; Oak Ridge, Tenn. : distributed by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, U.S. Dept. of Energy, 2017
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This paper presents a comparative techno-economic analysis of five conversion pathways from biomass to gasoline-, jet-, and diesel-range hydrocarbons via indirect liquefaction with specific focus on pathways utilizing oxygenated intermediates (derived either via thermochemical or biochemical conversion steps). The four emerging pathways of interest are compared with one conventional pathway (Fischer-Tropsch) for the production of the hydrocarbon blendstocks. The processing steps of the four emerging pathways include: biomass-to-syngas via indirect gasification, gas cleanup, conversion of syngas to alcohols/oxygenates, followed by conversion of alcohols/oxygenates to hydrocarbon blendstocks via dehydration, oligomerization, and hydrogenation. We show that the emerging pathways via oxygenated intermediates have the potential to be cost competitive with the conventional Fischer-Tropsch process. The evaluated pathways and the benchmark process generally exhibit similar fuel yields and carbon conversion efficiencies. The resulting minimum fuel selling prices are comparable to the benchmark at approximately $3.60 per gallon-gasoline equivalent, with potential for two new pathways to be more economically competitive. Additionally, the coproduct values can play an important role in the economics of the processes with oxygenated intermediates derived via syngas fermentation. Major cost drivers for the integrated processes are tied to achievable fuel yields and conversion efficiency of the intermediate steps, i.e., the production of oxygenates/alcohols from syngas and the conversion of oxygenates/alcohols to hydrocarbon fuels.