Synthesis of augmented biofuel processes using solar energy

Dharik S. Mallapragada, Mohit Tawarmalani, Rakesh Agrawal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A method for synthesizing augmented biofuel processes, which improve biomass carbon conversion to liquid fuel (ηcarbon) using supplemental solar energy as heat, H2, and electricity is presented. For a target ηcarbon, our method identifies augmented processes requiring the least solar energy input. A nonconvex mixed integer nonlinear programming model allowing for simultaneous mass, heat, and power integration, is built over a process superstructure and solved using global optimization tools. As a case study, biomass thermochemical conversion via gasification/Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and fast-hydropyrolysis/hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) is considered. The optimal process configurations can be categorized either as standalone (ηcarbon≤54%), augmented using solar heat (54%≤ηcarbon≤74%), or augmented using solar heat and H2 (74≤ηcarbon≤95%). Importantly, the process H2 consumption is found to be close to the derived theoretical minimum values. To accommodate for the intermittency of solar heat/H2, we suggest processes that can operate at low and high ηcarbon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2533-2545
Number of pages13
JournalAIChE Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Energy
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Optimization
  • Process synthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Environmental Engineering
  • General Chemical Engineering


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