Process integration study of a kraft pulp mill converted to an ethanol production plant - Part A: Potential for heat integration of thermal separation units
Journal article, 2012

Energy efficiency is an important parameter for the profitability of biochemical ethanol production from lignocellulosic raw material. The yield of ethanol is generally low due to the limited amount of fermentable compounds in the raw material. Increasing energy efficiency leads to possibilities of exporting more by-products, which in turn might reduce the net production cost of ethanol. Energy efficiency is also an important issue when discussing the repurposing of kraft pulp mills to biorefineries, since the mills in question most likely will be old and inefficient. Investing in energy efficiency measures might therefore have a large effect on the economic performance. This paper discusses energy efficiency issues related to the repurposing of a kraft pulp mill into a lignocellulosic ethanol production plant. The studied process is a typical Scandinavian kraft pulp mill that has been converted to a biorefinery with ethanol as main product. A process integration study, using pinch analysis and process simulations, has been performed in order to assess alternative measures for improving the energy efficiency. The improvements found have also been related to the possibilities for by-product sales from the plant (electricity and/or lignin). In a forthcoming paper, which is the second part of this process integration study, an economic analysis based on the results from this paper will be presented.

Energy efficiency

Lignocellulosic ethanol production


Kraft pulp mill

Heat integration


Rickard Fornell

Industrial Energy Systems and Technologies

Thore Berntsson

Industrial Energy Systems and Technologies

Applied Thermal Engineering

1359-4311 (ISSN)

Vol. 35 1 81-90

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Subject Categories

Energy Engineering

Other Environmental Engineering

Areas of Advance




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