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Cost evaluation of cellulase enzyme for industrial-scale cellulosic ethanol production based on rigorous Aspen Plus modeling

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Cost reduction on cellulase enzyme usage has been the central effort in the commercialization of fuel ethanol production from lignocellulose biomass. Therefore, establishing an accurate evaluation method on cellulase enzyme cost is crucially important to support the health development of the future biorefinery industry. Currently, the cellulase cost evaluation methods were complicated and various controversial or even conflict results were presented. To give a reliable evaluation on this important topic, a rigorous analysis based on the Aspen Plus flowsheet simulation in the commercial scale ethanol plant was proposed in this study. The minimum ethanol selling price (MESP) was used as the indicator to show the impacts of varying enzyme supply modes, enzyme prices, process parameters, as well as enzyme loading on the enzyme cost. The results reveal that the enzyme cost drives the cellulosic ethanol price below the minimum profit point when the enzyme is purchased from the current industrial enzyme market. An innovative production of cellulase enzyme such as on-site enzyme production should be explored and tested in the industrial scale to yield an economically sound enzyme supply for the future cellulosic ethanol production.

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This research was supported by the National High-Tech Program of China (2012AA022301, 2014AA021901) and the Natural Science Foundation of China (21306048).

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Correspondence to Jie Bao.

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Liu, G., Zhang, J. & Bao, J. Cost evaluation of cellulase enzyme for industrial-scale cellulosic ethanol production based on rigorous Aspen Plus modeling. Bioprocess Biosyst Eng 39, 133–140 (2016).

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