Methodology for evaluating the economics of biologically producing chemicals and materials from alternative feedstocks

  • Ronald Landucci
  • Barbara Goodman
  • Charles Wyman
Session 4 Process Economics and Commercialization

Abstract

A wide range of chemicals and materials can be produced from renewable feedstocks through bioconversions. An iterative, progressively detailed technology screening approach was developed to identify the most promising candidates. Initially, candidates are selected into a portfolio based on their future potential as large-volume industrial chemicals or materials. Second, the candidates are ranked with respect to a simple economic criterion based on the market value, the price of the starting material, and the product yield. Simple comparisons are then made, where possible, between producing the product via the most competitive conventional route and via the proposed bioprocessing route. Next, qualitative information is gathered from industrial experts on the advantages and disadvantages of each product with respect to energy impacts, environmental quality, and economic competitiveness. Finally, engineering and economic evaluations are performed for the most promising candidates to assess the profitability of the bioprocessing route and to identify the research and development opportunities that have the greatest impact on energy savings, environmental quality, and economics. Forty chemicals and materials that could potentially be produced from renewable feedstocks were initially selected for evaluation by this methodology. From this, succinic acid was chosen for the first more detailed evaluation based on the initial screening results. The approach described in this article could be used by potential industrial producers to complement their forecasting of the technical and economic feasibility of producing chemicals and materials from renewable resources, and by researchers to identify opportunities for focused research and development.

Index Entries

Bioprocessing process evaluation economic analysis biomass feedstocks industrial chemicals 

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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald Landucci
    • 1
  • Barbara Goodman
    • 1
  • Charles Wyman
    • 1
  1. 1.Alternative Fuels DivisionNational Renewable Energy LaboratoryGolden

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