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Economic and technical feasibility studies: technologies for second generation biofuels

Sarah Gabashwediwe Mungodla (Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Agriculture, University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa, South Africa)
Linda Zikhona Linganiso (Department of Chemistry, University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa, South Africa)
Sukoluhle Mlambo (Department of Zoology, University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa, South Africa)
Tshwafo Motaung (Department of Chemistry, University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa, South Africa)

Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology

ISSN: 1726-0531

Article publication date: 23 April 2019

Issue publication date: 5 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

In 2008, a number of Southern African countries cultivated about 900,000 ha of Jatropha, with a number of biodiesel plants ready for production; however, none of the projects succeeded. In 2014, KiOR advanced biofuel Energy Company in the USA announced bankruptcy due to incompetent technology. Studies disclose that the reasons for biofuel plants failure are not only due to lack of incentives and unclear policies but also due to lack of economic feasibility and low production yields. This paper aims to review the techno-economy assessment of second-generation biofuel technologies. The purpose of this paper is to summarize specific techno-economic indicators such as production cost, technology efficiency and process life cycle analysis for advanced biofuel technology and to narrate and illustrate a clear view of what requires assessment to deploy a feasible advanced biofuel technology. This study also reviews assessment of biomass supply chain, feedstock availability and site selection criteria. The review also elaborates on the use of different processes, forecasting and simulation-modeling tools used in different techno-economic analysis studies. The review provides guidance for conducting a technical and economic feasibility study for the advanced biofuels energy business.

Design/methodology/approach

The aim of this review is, therefore, to evaluate the techno-economic feasibility studies for the establishment of viable industrial scale production of second-generation biofuels. It does so by grouping studies based on technology selection, feedstock availability and suitability, process simulation and economies as well as technology environmental impact assessment.

Findings

In conclusion, techno-economic analysis tools offer researchers insight in terms of where their research and development should focus, to attain the most significant enhancement for the economics of a technology. The study patterns within the scope of techno-economics of advanced biofuel reveal that there is no generic answer as to which technology would be feasible at a commercial scale. It is therefore important to keep in mind that models can only simplify and give a simulation of reality to a certain extent. Nevertheless, reviewed studies do not reach the same results, but some results are logically similar.

Originality/value

The originality of this article specifically illustrates important technical and economic indicators that should be considered when conducting feasibility studies for advance biofuels.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The National Research Fund under Grant number: SFH 160715178499 supported this work.

Citation

Mungodla, S.G., Linganiso, L.Z., Mlambo, S. and Motaung, T. (2019), "Economic and technical feasibility studies: technologies for second generation biofuels", Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 670-704. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEDT-07-2018-0111

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited