Optimizing hydrothermal carbonization of olive tree pruning: A techno-economic analysis based on experimental results
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2021

In this study the optimization of the hydrothermal carbonization process for the conversion of olive tree pruning into biofuel is presented. To this end, a combined experimental-economic assessment is performed. Experimental data obtained at laboratory scale were used to estimate the economic performance of a hypothetical industrial scale plant. To evaluate the viability of the project, three different plant sizes according to their capacity were selected (1250–625–312.5 kg/h). The discounted cash flow method was applied for the profitability analysis. Different scenarios were analyzed considering the reduction of associate costs or the improvement of the revenues compared to the baseline case. Results indicate that with the sizes studied, none of the alternatives are profitable. Despite that, the larger capacity shows the best outcomes. In this case, minimum selling price of 0.39 €/kg for hydrochar is required to reach profitability. Lower plant sizes would require higher selling prices (i.e., 0.46 €/kg for 625 kg/h capacity and 0.59 €/kg for 312.5 kg/h capacity). Similarly, a reduction of 33% in the electrical energy consumption can make the plan be profitable for the larger capacity. Likewise, a reduction until 0.053 €/kWh in the electricity price must be reached for achieving profitability. Thus, importance of government incentives is revealed in this work given that the reduction of costs along with the improvement in the revenues for the selling of the product can make the project economically viable. Other parameters like the number of workers are also interesting to consider as for example the reduction by two units improves the NPV value in almost 600 k€ for all the plant sizes.


Biomass valorization

Hydrothermal carbonization

Techno-economic viability

Olive tree pruning


Judith González-Arias

Universidad de Leon

Francisco Baena-Moreno

Universidad de Sevilla

Chalmers, Rymd-, geo- och miljövetenskap, Energiteknik, Energiteknik 2

Marta E. Sánchez

Universidad de Leon

Jorge Cara-Jiménez

Universidad de Leon

Science of the Total Environment

0048-9697 (ISSN)

Vol. 784 147169



Annan naturresursteknik






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