Techno-economic evaluation of a biogas-based oxidative coupling of methane process for ethylene production
This contribution is a preliminary techno-economic assessment of a biogas-based oxidative coupling of methane (OCM) process. Biogas is frequently utilized as a renewable energy source within small scale combined heat and power plants or as a natural gas substitute. The activation of methane also enables its utilization as a feedstock to produce chemicals. In this sense, the OCM process allows for the direct conversion of methane into ethylene, which is a major building block for the chemical and polymer industries. Biogas resulting from the anaerobic digestion of vinasse, a liquid effluent from bioethanol industry, is treated for contaminant removal and its methane content is converted into ethylene, which is then purified as the main product. The biogas cleaning process is assessed based on literature data, while an experimentally validated simulation model is used to assess the OCM process. A techno-economic evaluation is then performed through a Monte Carlo simulation, wherein uncertain parameters take random values between reasonable bounds. The net present value results positive in 74% of the cases, indicating that the project is profitable under a wide range of scenarios. Some performance improvement opportunities have been identified and highlighted to guide future studies in the topic.