Publication Details

Title : Energy and water sustainability in the U.S. biofuel industry
Publication Date : June 01, 2019
Authors : M. Wu
Abstract : The progress of technology development for conventional and advanced biofuel production processes in the U.S. has been reviewed by several groups over the last two decades (Warner et al. 2017; Mueller and Kwik 2013; Wu et al. 2009; Wu 2008; Shapouri and Gallagher 2005). Together, these surveys have demonstrated a continuous improvement of productivity, diversified product portfolio, and progress in resource conservation. Data gathered on production capacity, yield, energy use, and product portfolio help to establish industrial benchmarks and to evaluate the environmental sustainability of the industry, which is critical to addressing the Food-Energy-Water (FEW) nexus that is closely linked to bioenergy production. In 2018, Argonne National Laboratory, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Bioenergy Technologies Office, conducted a survey of biofuel producers in the United States. The survey covered a full range of plant operation parameters, including plant capacity, feedstock, product, production volume, coproducts, water resources, water treatment, water usage, wastewater management, and process fuel and electricity consumption, as reflected in 2017 plant operation data. This report presents the most up-to-date analysis of commercial-scale plants in the U.S., including facilities producing fuels from both starch and cellulosic materials. As of this time, this is the first survey that includes the comprehensive recording of water resources, water use, and water and wastewater management for the U.S. biofuel industry at the facility level. Data presented in this study reflect primarily information on full-scale ethanol production from dry mills that was available at the time of survey. Results highlight the complexity of energy and water resource use in process steps and the role of water conservation, recycling, and reuse in advancing the production of biofuel and its contribution to the bioeconomy and the FEW nexus.

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