Techno-Economic Analysis and Life-Cycle Assessment of Emerging Technologies for Bioprocessing Separations

Lauren Valentino, Jennifer Dunn, Eric Tan, Charles Freeman, William Kubic, Alex Rosenthal

Research output: NRELPresentation


Limited availability, rising costs, and environmental concerns about fossil fuels have generated considerable interest in finding alternative, renewable sources including biomass, which can be converted into a number of biofuels and bioproducts. In comparison to petroleum-based products, high processing costs, mainly associated with bioprocessing separations, limit widespread implementation of biofuels and bioproducts. Bioprocess-related separations are also complicated, regardless of the conversion pathway, due to the dilute nature of products and the chemically complex mixtures that result from biomass deconstruction. In many cases, bioprocessing separation approaches lack a technology baseline, or definition of the state of technology (SOT). This work focuses on evaluating the technology readiness of novel separations technologies for the conversion of biomass into biofuels and bioproducts and will address three key topics: 1) SOT description, 2) economic viability analysis of both SOT and innovative separations, and 3) environmental impact assessment of both SOT and novel processes. The current SOT for lignin valorization, dilute carbon recovery, and impurity removal is used to identify potential opportunities for improvement and provide a baseline for comparison with the emerging technologies. Detailed techno-economic analysis (TEA) and life cycle assessment (LCA) are applied to understand the key drivers and challenges related to the economic feasibility and environmental impacts, respectively.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages19
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NamePresented at the 2020 AIChE Annual Meeting, 16-20 November 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5100-78261


  • bioprocessing
  • integrated analysis
  • separations


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