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Early-Stage Capital Cost Estimation of Biorefinery Processes: A Comparative Study of Heuristic Techniques

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Biorefineries offer a promising alternative to fossil-based processing industries and have undergone rapid development in recent years. Limited financial resources and stringent company budgets necessitate quick capital estimation of pioneering biorefinery projects at the early stages of their conception to screen process alternatives, decide on project viability, and allocate resources to the most promising cases. Biorefineries are capital-intensive projects that involve state-of-the-art technologies for which there is no prior experience or sufficient historical data. This work reviews existing rapid cost estimation practices, which can be used by researchers with no previous cost estimating experience. It also comprises a comparative study of six cost methods on three well-documented biorefinery processes to evaluate their accuracy and precision. The results illustrate discrepancies among the methods because their extrapolation on biorefinery data often violates inherent assumptions. This study recommends the most appropriate rapid cost methods and urges the development of an improved early-stage capital cost estimation tool suitable for biorefinery processes.

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