Project Synopsis

Develop a process simulation model and validate it through plant testing for a sugar cane bagasse to ethanol demonstration plant.

Project Summary


The client, a biomass conversion company, contracted Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) to develop an ASPEN process simulation model of their cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant located in the U.S.  The client operated the plant under contract with a large integrated oil company to demonstrate technology to convert sugar cane bagasse to ethanol.

Bagasse is fed to pre-treatment prior to enzymatic hydrolysis and subsequent co-fermentation.  The product is distilled following fermentation to recover ethanol.  RADFRAC simulation module was used to simulate the distillation columns.  Centrifuge and filtration operations were modeled to simulate production of byproducts from distillation bottoms.  The client supplied operating parameters and reaction data to PROCESS for the development of the pre-treatment and fermentation models used in the simulation. 

Some of the chemical components were not standard and required building and adding user components in ASPEN.  Plant power demand was calculated based on feed rate, feed characterization, and efficiency equations.  ASPEN Exchanger and Design & Rating (EDR) was used to rate or design exchangers.

PROCESS traveled to the plant site to collect the necessary plant data required to develop the plant models and tune the simulation for various operating scenarios.  After building the base simulation from plant models, tests were conducted at various operating conditions to validate results.

PROCESS delivered a final ASPEN file to the client at the end of the project for use in future design and optimization work.  After the primary simulation project was completed, PROCESS continued to support demonstration efforts by running the simulation and supplying output and design recommendations to the client.


Industry Type

  • Alternative Fuels Production

Utilized Skills

  • Process simulation
  • Simulation model plant validation testing

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