Integrated furfural and first generation bioethanol production: process simulation and techno-economic analysis

Abstract Furfural is a base chemical with a wide range of applications and with a great opportunity for market growth in the near term. Derived from biomass, its production may be incorporated to the Brazilian chemical industry using sugarcane bagasse as feedstock. In this context, the integration of a furfural plant to a first generation bioethanol facility, within the biorefinery concept, was simulated considering different scenarios compared to an autonomous bioethanol distillery. The economic analysis of the different scenarios showed that the revenues from furfural commercialization increase the internal rate of return of the project for maximum furfural production (22.0%) in comparison to a conventional ethanol distillery (13.5%), despite the decrease in electricity output. Moreover, the economic analysis of the results pointed out the possibility of lowering furfural prices to levels that could lead to its use as a precursor for biofuels.