In this study rigorous simulations of the integrated first and second generation bioethanol production were carried out using Aspen Plus. The goal of this study was to evaluate the technological improvements to be implemented in the process in order to make available 100% of the lignocellulosic material (bagasse produced in the mills and sugarcane trash recovered from the field) for second generation ethanol production. The process design alternatives considered include pentoses liquor and vinasse biodigestion for production of biogas, use of unreacted cellulignin as a fuel, thermal integration and high solids loading in hydrolysis, among other improvements.
Environmental assessment (LCA) and economic analysis were carried out to indicate which configurations lead to the best economic and environmental results. Results show that these technological improvements can significantly increase ethanol production and improve process sustainability.