Economic analysis of ethanol production from citrus peel waste

Weiyang Zhou, Wilbur Widmer, Karel Grohmann


The Florida citrus juice industry produces about 3.5 million tons of wet peel waste per year. In current industrial practice, the peel waste is dried and sold as cattle feed to offset the waste disposal cost. Profitability would be greatly improved if the peel waste could be used to produce higher value products. Recent advances by USDA/ARS scientists and their partner Renewable Spirits, LLC have given rise to the potential of a new process for making fuel ethanol from citrus peel waste. In this paper, the economics of the process for making citrus ethanol are analyzed and discussed. The economic model for the cellulose-to-ethanol process was used as a benchmark to estimate the project cost and the fixed operating cost for the peel-to-ethanol process. The production cost of citrus ethanol is estimated to be approximately $1.23/gal, possibly higher than the cost of corn ethanol ($1.00/gal), but lower than the cost of cellulose ethanol ($1.35-1.62/gal). This study allows us to pinpoint the economics of the process for making fuel ethanol from citrus peel waste, and is useful for predicting the cost benefit of proposed research and its economic impact on the juice industry.


citrus peel waste; fuel ethanol; cellulose ethanol; biomass; production cost; process economics

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283