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Techno-economic Analysis of Sustainable Biofuels for Marine Transportation...

Publication Type
Journal Name
Environmental Science & Technology
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1 to 12

Renewable, low-carbon biofuels offer the potential opportunity to decarbonize marine transportation. This paper presents a comparative techno-economic analysis and process sustainability assessment of four conversion pathways: (1) hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) of wet wastes such as sewage sludge and manure; (2) fast pyrolysis of woody biomass; (3) landfill gas Fischer–Tropsch synthesis; and (4) lignin–ethanol oil from the lignocellulosic ethanol biorefinery utilizing reductive catalytic fractionation. These alternative marine biofuels have a modeled minimum fuel selling price between $1.68 and $3.98 per heavy fuel oil gallon equivalent in 2016 U.S. dollars based on a mature plant assessment. The selected pathways also exhibit good process sustainability performance in terms of water intensity compared to the petroleum refineries. Further, the O and S contents of the biofuels vary widely. While the non-HTL biofuels exhibit negligible S content, the raw biocrudes via HTL pathways from sludge and manure show relatively high S contents (>0.5 wt %). Partial or full hydrotreatment can effectively lower the biocrude S content. Additionally, co-feeding with other low-sulfur wet wastes such as food waste can provide another option to produce raw biocrude with lower S content to meet the target with further hydrotreatment. This study indicates that biofuels could be a cost-effective fuel option for the marine sector. Marine biofuels derived from various feedstocks and conversion technologies could mitigate marine biofuel adoption risk in terms of feedstock availability and biorefinery economics.