Prospects for Chemicals and Fuels Production by Fermentation

  • Charles L. Cooney
Part of the Basic Life Sciences book series


The chemical industry or, more specifically, the organic chemical industry is characterized as a large volume converter of inexpensive feedstocks into both commodity and specialty chemical products. The chemical process industry, in 1981, produced over 175 billion pounds of organic chemicals which are primarily accounted for by the top 29 organics listed in Table 1 [1]. In addition, 22 inorganic chemicals accounted for 373 billion pounds of production. Total chemical sales for 1981 was $114 billion [1]. The primary feedstocks for the chemical industry are currently derived from petroleum and natural gas resources. It is interesting to consider the “typical” chemical process from a manufacturing cost point of view: 60–75% of the manufacturing costs are feedstock cost and 10–20% is capital-related. From Figure 1, which relates selling price to production volume, the price range for commodity chemicals is 10–50c/lb. The capital investment for construction of a new chemical plant is approximately $0.25–0.30 per annual pound of product produced. The expected capital spending in the chemical industry for 1982 is $14.7 billion [2], Over the period 1971 to 1981, the annual growth in organic chemicals production has proceeded at 4.5%.


Lignocellulosic Biomass Adipic Acid Vinyl Acetate Conversion Yield Terephthalic Acid 
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  1. 1.
    Anonymous, 1982. Chemical and Engineering News May 3, p. 10.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Anonymous, 1982. Chemical Week, May 19, p. 12.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Anonymous, 1982. Chemical Week, April 7, p. 44.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles L. Cooney
    • 1
  1. 1.Biochemical Engineering Laboratories Department of Chemical EngineeringMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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