Adaptable biorefinery: Some basic economic concepts to guide research selection

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One important pathway to commercialize black liquor gasification for a noticeable impact on the US Industrial Energy Market is to operate at an adequate scale. Larson et al (2003) suggest a 7 CFA gas turbine operating from a 1900 dry T/day pulping operation. However, many ageing mills do not operate at that scale and most new mills have new Tomlinson boilers unlikely to retire in the next 15-20 years. If older, smaller mills face a rebuild, shut down or convert choice; it is arguably unlikely they will adopt the dual investments of a large scale gasification system and scale up pulping operations at the same time. One option for impact in the 25 year horizon is the biorefinery but the exemplar or reference mill arguably should address the realities of those mills likely to be conversion candidates in the intermediate term. This work considers the adaptable integrated biorefinery that operates at a large scale for gasification but not perhaps at a large pulp making scale. This means that biorefinery conversions may look very different from place to place, producing different products, using different mixes of feed stocks and even producing different types of pulp. Without determining the optimal product array here, the basic economic principles that drive these choices (and therefore the research priorities) are all familiar. Product Diversification and Market Influence wherein the producer or pulp industry collectively has some market influence beyond vulnerable price-taking positions and the value cycles among the various products are counter-cyclic, or obey a standard portfolio position. Represented here are the basic micro-economic concepts that can be rewritten as a formal investment model. This way of treating the adaptable biorefinery may open new venues unexplored. Under favorable conditions that respond to the pulp mills as they are it may be possible to locate biorefinery conversions where initial outlays remain more modest, new value streams may be drawn from agriculture as well as from forestry, and pulp mill adaptations may be a platform able to add new products (extracted chemicals, fuels, hydrogen cells) as they come on line rather than depend on these breakthroughs to commence commercialization. Technical hurdles exist, but are perhaps less constraining than other technical hurdles to commercialization in the shorter time horizon.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2005 TAPPI Engineering, Pulping, Environmental Conference - Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2006
Event2005 TAPPI Engineering, Pulping, Environmental Conference - Philadelphia, PA, United States
Duration: Aug 28 2005Aug 31 2005

Publication series

Name2005 TAPPI Engineering, Pulping, Environmental Conference - Conference Proceedings


Conference2005 TAPPI Engineering, Pulping, Environmental Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPhiladelphia, PA


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