Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Fuel Ethanol
thesisposted on 12.05.2021, 21:26 by Kylee J Johnston
There is currently a huge movement towards research and future implementation of renewable fuel sources such as biofuels to combat the increasing rate of global warming partially due to the combustion of petroleum-based fuel sources. This was one of the major inspirations for my College of Engineering Senior Design group project. My team and I analyzed an ethanol plant in which dried corn is refined to produce fuel-grade ethanol, which is a fuel source that has the potential to completely replace gasoline and produces less greenhouse gas emissions when combusted. Unfortunately, one of the major drawbacks to the typical refinement of ethanol is the large amount of CO2 emissions that are produced as a byproduct of the refining process. As a result, my senior design team researched possible alternatives that could be implemented into an ethanol plant to mitigate these carbon emissions. More specifically, my team looked at three plausible options: electric heat, carbon capture and gas stripping. These alternatives were extensively researched and compared to our base case, which models the process operations and carbon emissions of a typical ethanol plant, to determine the extent that negative environmental consequences were mitigated. Moreover, my personal contributions to this senior design project included an extensive analysis of the plant’s economics relating to material costs, operating costs, and product revenue along with an in-depth risk analysis of the process hazards associated with the plant.