Geothermal Energy Market Study on the Atlantic Coastal Plain: Technical Feasibility of use of Eastern Geothermal Energy in Vacuum Distillation of Ethanol Fuel

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The DOE is studying availability, economics, and uses of geothermal energy. These studies are being conducted to assure maximum cost-effective use of geothermal resources. The DOE is also aiding development of a viable ethanol fuel industry. One important point of the ethanol program is to encourage use of non-fossil fuels, such as geothermal energy, as process heat to manufacture ethanol. Geothermal waters available in the eastern US tend to be lower in temperature (180 F or less) than those available in the western states (above 250 F). Technically feasible use of eastern geothermal energy for ethanol process heat requires use ... continued below

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Creator: Unknown. April 1, 1981.

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The DOE is studying availability, economics, and uses of geothermal energy. These studies are being conducted to assure maximum cost-effective use of geothermal resources. The DOE is also aiding development of a viable ethanol fuel industry. One important point of the ethanol program is to encourage use of non-fossil fuels, such as geothermal energy, as process heat to manufacture ethanol. Geothermal waters available in the eastern US tend to be lower in temperature (180 F or less) than those available in the western states (above 250 F). Technically feasible use of eastern geothermal energy for ethanol process heat requires use of technology that lowers ethanol process temperature requirements. Vacuum (subatmospheric) distillation is one such technology. This study, then, addresses technical feasibility of use of geothermal energy to provide process heat to ethanol distillation units operated at vacuum pressures. They conducted this study by performing energy balances on conventional and vacuum ethanol processes of ten million gallons per year size. Energy and temperature requirements for these processes were obtained from the literature or were estimated (for process units or technologies not covered in available literature). Data on available temperature and energy of eastern geothermal resources was obtained from the literature. These data were compared to ethanol process requirements, assuming a 150 F geothermal resource temperature. Conventional ethanol processes require temperatures of 221 F for mash cooking to 240 F for stripping. Fermentation, conducted at 90 F, is exothermic and requires no process heat. All temperature requirements except those for fermentation exceed assumed geothermal temperatures of 150 F. They assumed a 130 millimeter distillation pressure for the vacuum process. It requires temperatures of 221 F for mash cooking and 140 F for distillation. Data indicate lower energy requirements for the vacuum ethanol process (30 million BTUs per hour) than for the conventional process (36 million BTUs per hour). Lower energy requirements result from improved process energy recovery. Data examined in this study indicate feasible use of eastern geothermal heated waters (150 F) to provide process heat for vacuum (130 mm Hg) ethanol distillation units. Data indicate additional heat sources are needed to raise geothermal temperatures to the 200 F level required by mash cooking. Data also indicate potential savings in overall process energy use through use of vacuum distillation technology. Further study is needed to confirm conclusions reached during this study. Additional work includes obtaining energy use data from vacuum ethanol distillation units currently operating in the 130 millimeter pressure range; economic analysis of different vacuum pressures to select an optimum; and operation of a pilot geothermally heated vacuum column to produce confirmatory process data.

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  • Report No.: JHU/APL
  • Report No.: QM-81-066
  • Grant Number: N00024-81-C-5301
  • DOI: 10.2172/892713 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 892713
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc883936

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • April 1, 1981

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

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  • Dec. 7, 2016, 3:06 p.m.

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Geothermal Energy Market Study on the Atlantic Coastal Plain: Technical Feasibility of use of Eastern Geothermal Energy in Vacuum Distillation of Ethanol Fuel, report, April 1, 1981; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc883936/: accessed December 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.