Potential solution to the sustainable ethanol production from industrial tail gas: An integrated life cycle and techno-economic analysis

Lingyun Zhang, Qun Shen, Kien Woh Kow, Qianqian Chen, Wei Chen, Tao Wu, Chenggong Sun, Edward Lester, Cheng Heng Pang, Wei Wei

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


Utilising industrial tail gas for ethanol production is a viable pathway to significantly mitigate CO2 emissions whilst simultaneously producing value-added fuels and chemicals, which has received great attention in recent years. While some technologies have been commercial deployed, new technological concepts continue to emerge in order to improve the life cycle and techno-economic performance. In this investigation, a novel ethanol production technology integrating tail gas-based ethanol (TG-ethanol) with electro-catalytic CO2 reduction (ECR), called TGEE technology, was first proposed to address the energy and carbon efficiency issues associated with the state-of-the-art TG-ethanol technologies. The process was modularly modelled for to accommodate different ECR integration scenarios for three typical industrial tail gas streams (steel, iron alloy and calcium carbide). In addition, life cycle & techno-economic analysis based on Monte Carlo simulation were employed to evaluate the environmental and economic performance of the TGEE process. Results show that ethanol capacity can be increased by 1.3–2.9 times with carbon efficiency up to 36–82%. Life cycle carbon footprints of TGEE-ethanol were estimated to be 1.77–3.93 t CO2eq/t ethanol, with a carbon reduction potential of 32–63% higher than the TG-ethanol. Minimum ethanol selling price is estimated to be 428–962 $/t ethanol, which is lower than the current ethanol market price (900–1080 $/t). Overall, the comprehensive analysis suggests that the TGEE process emerges as a more economically and environmentally benign next-generation technology for ethanol production from industrial tail gas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number150493
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2024


  • Ethanol
  • Monte Carlo simulation
  • carbon footprints
  • life cycle assessment
  • techno-economic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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