Date of Award:

4-20-2015

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Advisor/Chair:

Jason C. Quinn

Abstract

Uncertainty in the global energy market and negative environmental impacts associated with fossil fuels has led to renewed interest in alternative fuels. The scalability of new technologies and production pathways are critically being evaluated through economic feasibility studies and environmental impact assessments. This work investigated the conversion of agricultural wast, delactosed whey permeate (delac), with yeast fermentation for the generation of biofuel via hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL). The feasibility of the process was demonstrated at laboratory scale with data leveraged to validate systems models used to perform industrial-scale economic and environmental impact analyses. Results showed a minimum fuel selling point of $4.56 per gasoline gallon equivalent (CGE), a net energy ratio (NER), defined as energy required to process biofuel divided by energy in the biofuel produced, of 0.81 and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 30.03 g CO2-eq MJ-1. High Production costs can be attributed to operational temperatures of HTL while the high lipid yields of the yeast counter these heating demands, resulting in a favorable NER. The operating conditions of both fermentation and HTL contributed to the majority of GHG emissions. Further discussion focuses on optimization of the process, on the metrics of TEA and LCA and the evaluation of the process, on the metrics of TEA and LCA, and the evaluation of the process through a sensitivity analysis that highlights areas for directed research to improve commercial feasibility.

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