Process and technoeconomic analysis of leading pretreatment technologies for lignocellulosic ethanol production using switchgrass

Ling Tao, Andy Aden, Richard T. Elander, Venkata Ramesh Pallapolu, Y. Y. Lee, Rebecca J. Garlock, Venkatesh Balan, Bruce E. Dale, Youngmi Kim, Nathan S. Mosier, Michael R. Ladisch, Matthew Falls, Mark T. Holtzapple, Rocio Sierra, Jian Shi, Mirvat A. Ebrik, Tim Redmond, Bin Yang, Charles E. Wyman, Bonnie HamesSteve Thomas, Ryan E. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

256 Scopus citations


Six biomass pretreatment processes to convert switchgrass to fermentable sugars and ultimately to cellulosic ethanol are compared on a consistent basis in this technoeconomic analysis. The six pretreatment processes are ammonia fiber expansion (AFEX), dilute acid (DA), lime, liquid hot water (LHW), soaking in aqueous ammonia (SAA), and sulfur dioxide-impregnated steam explosion (SO 2). Each pretreatment process is modeled in the framework of an existing biochemical design model so that systematic variations of process-related changes are consistently captured. The pretreatment area process design and simulation are based on the research data generated within the Biomass Refining Consortium for Applied Fundamentals and Innovation (CAFI) 3 project. Overall ethanol production, total capital investment, and minimum ethanol selling price (MESP) are reported along with selected sensitivity analysis. The results show limited differentiation between the projected economic performances of the pretreatment options, except for processes that exhibit significantly lower monomer sugar and resulting ethanol yields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11105-11114
Number of pages10
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded under the Office of the Biomass Program of the United States Department of Energy through Contract No. DE-FG36-04GO14017. We would like to acknowledge all the generous help from each CAFI 3 project PI to establish the design basis for each pretreatment method.


  • Biomass
  • Enzymatic hydrolysis
  • Pretreatment
  • Process economics
  • Switchgrass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


Dive into the research topics of 'Process and technoeconomic analysis of leading pretreatment technologies for lignocellulosic ethanol production using switchgrass'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this