Alternative energy production at a commercial scale involves an entirely new way of looking at the production processes for fuels and other products. Traditional approaches, such as those used in converting petroleum or coal into transportation fuels, natural gas, or commodity chemicals, simply don’t work; the conversion reactions are often fundamentally different. Successful processing of alternative feedstock materials, such as biomass, into fuel or other high-value products requires a new approach to process design.
Building a solid understanding of the process itself often involves a mix of basic engineering design, building pilot-scale facilities, and years of research before a commercial-scale facility has any reasonable hope of working. This is where computer modeling of the process can help identify bottlenecks in the design, and allow a parametric study of conversion operations.
SERC has employed computer modeling in its past feasibility studies, both to evaluate the technical feasibility of its design concepts and to explore the economic viability if the technology is believed to be functional. This level of techno-economic modeling allows for exploration of alternatives in process design before committing to a large capital-intensive pilot-scale test facility. In essence, the virtual process built into a computer model can be evaluated and tuned as a means to direct the next steps in the actual design.
We believe our modeling experience can be of value to others. SERC currently provides custom model development and process analysis of alternative energy systems. We are also working to consolidate our data resources into databases, and make our techno-economic modeling tools suitable for use by others in the form of commercially available software. We have an extensive range of experience in this area and are confident that our resources can help others understand the viability of their renewable and alternative energy ideas.
If you would like to discuss computer modeling possibilities for your renewable or alternative energy system, please contact SERC.