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Bulk Chemicals From Biomass

J. Haveren, E. Scott, J. Sanders
Published 2008 · Biology

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Given the current robust forces driving sustainable production, and available biomass conversion technologies, biomass-based routes are expected to make a significant impact on the production of bulk chemicals within 10 years, and a huge impact within 20–30 years. In the Port of Rotterdam there is a clear short-term (0–10 year) substitution potential of 10–15 % of fossil oil-based bulk chemicals by bio-based bulk chemicals, especially for oxygenated bulk chemicals, such as ethylene glycol and propylene glycol, iso-propanol and acetone, butylene and methylethylketone and for the replacement of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) by ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE). Glycerin, as a byproduct of biodiesel production, is a very favorable short-term option for the production of ethylene and propy-lene glycols in the Port of Rotterdam. In the mid-term (10–20 years) there is clear potential for a bio-based production of ethylene, acrylic acid and N-containing bulk chemicals such as acrylonitrile, acrylamide and e-caprolactam. Technologies involving direct isolation of aromatic building blocks from biomass, or the conversion of sugars or lignin to aromatics are still in their infancy. Biorefineries that are being started up today will form the stepping stones toward the chemicals mentioned above if we learn to upgrade their side streams. For main ports like the Port of Rotterdam, these developments imply that it has to consider in much closer detail those facilities it has to offer for a more bio-based chemistry and economy. © 2007 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
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