Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 2

Bio-based chemicals Related Abstracts

2 Techno-Economic Analysis of 1,3-Butadiene and ε-Caprolactam Production from C6 Sugars

Authors: Iris Vural Gursel, Jonathan Moncada, Ernst Worrell, Andrea Ramirez


In order to achieve the transition from a fossil to bio-based economy, biomass needs to replace fossil resources in meeting the world’s energy and chemical needs. This calls for development of biorefinery systems allowing cost-efficient conversion of biomass to chemicals. In biorefinery systems, feedstock is converted to key intermediates called platforms which are converted to wide range of marketable products. The C6 sugars platform stands out due to its unique versatility as precursor for multiple valuable products. Among the different potential routes from C6 sugars to bio-based chemicals, 1,3-butadiene and ε-caprolactam appear to be of great interest. Butadiene is an important chemical for the production of synthetic rubbers, while caprolactam is used in production of nylon-6. In this study, ex-ante techno-economic performance of 1,3-butadiene and ε-caprolactam routes from C6 sugars were assessed. The aim is to provide insight from an early stage of development into the potential of these new technologies, and the bottlenecks and key cost-drivers. Two cases for each product line were analyzed to take into consideration the effect of possible changes on the overall performance of both butadiene and caprolactam production. Conceptual process design for the processes was developed using Aspen Plus based on currently available data from laboratory experiments. Then, operating and capital costs were estimated and an economic assessment was carried out using Net Present Value (NPV) as indicator. Finally, sensitivity analyses on processing capacity and prices was done to take into account possible variations. Results indicate that both processes perform similarly from an energy intensity point of view ranging between 34-50 MJ per kg of main product. However, in terms of processing yield (kg of product per kg of C6 sugar), caprolactam shows higher yield by a factor 1.6-3.6 compared to butadiene. For butadiene production, with the economic parameters used in this study, for both cases studied, a negative NPV (-642 and -647 M€) was attained indicating economic infeasibility. For the caprolactam production, one of the cases also showed economic infeasibility (-229 M€), but the case with the higher caprolactam yield resulted in a positive NPV (67 M€). Sensitivity analysis indicated that the economic performance of caprolactam production can be improved with the increase in capacity (higher C6 sugars intake) reflecting benefits of the economies of scale. Furthermore, humins valorization for heat and power production was considered and found to have a positive effect. Butadiene production was found sensitive to the price of feedstock C6 sugars and product butadiene. However, even at 100% variation of the two parameters, butadiene production remained economically infeasible. Overall, the caprolactam production line shows higher economic potential in comparison to that of butadiene. The results are useful in guiding experimental research and providing direction for further development of bio-based chemicals.

Keywords: Biorefinery, Bio-based chemicals, Process Modelling, Economic analysis, C6 sugars

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1 Laboratory Scale Production of Bio-Based Chemicals from Industrial Waste Feedstock in South Africa

Authors: P. Mandree, S. O. Ramchuran, F. O'Brien, L. Sethunya, S. Khumalo


South Africa is identified as one of the five emerging waste management markets, globally. The waste sector in South Africa influences the areas of energy, water and food at an economic and social level. Recently, South African industries have focused on waste valorization and diversification of the current product offerings in an attempt to reduce industrial waste, target a zero waste-to-landfill initiative and recover energy. South Africa has a number of waste streams including industrial and agricultural biomass, municipal waste and marine waste. Large volumes of agricultural and forestry residues, in particular, are generated which provides significant opportunity for production of bio-based fuels and chemicals. This could directly impact development of a rural economy. One of the largest agricultural industries is the sugar industry, which contributes significantly to the country’s economy and job creation. However, the sugar industry is facing challenges due to fluctuations in sugar prices, increasing competition with low-cost global sugar producers, increasing energy and agricultural input costs, lower consumption and aging facilities. This study is aimed at technology development for the production of various bio-based chemicals using feedstock from the sugar refining process. Various indigenous bacteria and yeast species were assessed for the potential to produce platform chemicals in flask studies and at 30 L fermentation scale. Quantitative analysis of targeted bio-based chemicals was performed using either gas chromatography or high pressure liquid chromatography to assess production yields and techno-economics in order to compare performance to current commercial benchmark processes. The study also creates a decision platform for the research direction that is required for strain development using Industrial Synthetic Biology.

Keywords: Biorefinery, Bio-based chemicals, Waste Valorization, industrial synthetic biology

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