RESEARCH ARTICLE


The Minimum Water Consumption of Ethanol Production via Biomass Fermentation



P.H. Pfromm*
Department of Chemical Engineering, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA


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© 2008 Pfromm et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA; E-mail: pfromm@ksu.edu


Abstract

The water consumption of fermentation-based bio-ethanol production has recently begun to attract public attention. We calculate a minimum consumption of 2.85 gal water/gal of ethanol produced assuming zero liquid discharge and otherwise current industrial practice data. Including cooling tower blowdown and drift this value may increase to on the order of 4 gal water/gal of ethanol produced. Reduction of the thermal energy input to the process is vital to reduce this irretrievable water consumption.