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Desenvolvimento de um processo de conversão de cana-de-açúcar a levulinato de etila : uma rota para um aditivo de biodiesel viável

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Author(s):
Jean Felipe Leal Silva
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Master's Dissertation
Defense date:
Advisor: Rubens Maciel Filho
Abstract

Ethyl levulinate is a derivative of levulinic acid with the potential to be used in the near future as a diesel and biodiesel additive because of its unique characteristics, such as high oxygen content and renewable origin. Ethyl levulinate is the product of the esterification of ethanol with levulinic acid, being the later obtained from hydrolysis of hexoses. However, the large-scale production of ethyl levulinate is unfeasible these days due to the lack of proper conversion technology. The objective of this master¿s project was to propose and investigate a process of hydrolysis of biomass focusing on the production of levulinic acid and its further conversion to ethyl levulinate, considering the economic factors that are the most important in reducing the production costs. A review of the possible routes demonstrated the enormous potential of producing ethyl levulinate in Brazil using sugarcane bagasse as feedstock. During the project, several steps of the production of ethyl levulinate were studied individually to cover gaps in the literature that were fundamental in the development of more accurate process simulation to produce ethyl levulinate. Finally, using these results, this work presents the simulation of a biorefinery and the optimization of operating parameters to minimize the production cost of ethyl levulinate. Solids loading in the hydrolysis reactor was demonstrated to be the main factor impacting the production cost of ethyl levulinate because of its high impact in the final concentration of levulinic acid in the hydrolysate. Results indicated that production of ethyl levulinate at about half of the price of ultra-low-sulfur diesel in Brazil (energy basis) is economically viable. Conditions that led to lower production costs included hydrolysis in less severe conditions (lower catalyst dosage and lower temperature), even though this scenario does not represent the best possible selectivity. Another fundamental factor for the economic success of the processes consists of removing part of the hemicelluloses before hydrolysis of cellulose in a different step. Risk analysis of the optimized biorefinery compared to an optimized ethanol distillery producing electricity from bagasse showed that production of biomass-derived chemicals such as furfural, ethyl levulinate, and formic acid represents a safer and more profitable investment than producing only electricity from the surplus bagasse. Overall, the results demonstrated the viability of ethyl levulinate production using sugarcane bagasse as feedstock and presented a better understanding of the factors that impact the profitability of the process. Therefore, these observations will serve as a tool for other researchers to developed better processes for conversion of biomass to levulinic acid and derivatives in the future by having a better grasp of the economics behind it (AU)

FAPESP's process: 16/10450-1 - Process development for sugarcane converstion to ethyl levulinate: a route for a viable biodiesel additive
Grantee:Jean Felipe Leal Silva
Support type: Scholarships in Brazil - Master