Footprint quantification in the route scouting phase of projects – Guesstimating the energy component of the footprint


*Corresponding author
1. DSM Innovative Synthesis B.V., Urmonderbaan 22, P.O. Box 18, 6160 MD Geleen, The Netherlands
2. DSM Corporate Operations and Responsible Care, Het Overloon 1, P.O.Box 6500, 6401 JH Heerlen, The Netherlands.
3. DSM Nutritional Products, P.O. Box 2676, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland
4. DSM Fibre Intermediates, IC-R&D, P.O. Box 18, 6160 MD Geleen, The Netherlands


Comparison and ranking of different synthetic routes based on their (potential) sustainability performance is an essential step towards the development of chemical processes that are benign by design. In this paper we present a methodology which enables experienced process R&D chemists already in an early route scouting phase to estimate in an easy, not too time consuming manner, and with a useful degree of accuracy, the carbon footprint of different synthetic routes.


The introduction of the E-factor (1) and the concept of atom efficiency (2) in the early 1990’s have played a pivotal role in creating awareness on the wastefulness and ecological impact of the (fine) chemical industry. This has ultimately resulted in the recognition of the absolute need for a systematic improvement of the sustainability (3) of chemical processes. This increased attention for the environmental impact of chemical processes calls for adaptation of the mind-set throughout an organization. The latter does not only apply to running business but also and especially to route scouting activities aimed at new business development. After all, it is there where future processes are designed. Making the minimization of the ecological footprint of a chemical process an intentional act of design from start on (benign by design) not only maximizes the environmental benefit of these efforts but is also more cost effective.

The aforementioned implies that evaluation and ranking of different synthetic routes solely based on their traditional performance indicators, e.g. cost price potential and technical feasibility is no longer suf ...