The bio-based transition: drop-in versus new products (2)


Gert-Jan Gruter
CTO at Avantium and professor of Industrial, Sustainable Chemistry at the, University of Amsterdam

Starting from the May/June 2017 issue of Chimica OGGI / Chemistry TODAY, in a column entitled “Emerging Value Chain”, the author will discuss novel chemical technologies with specific emphasis on those that can contribute to the EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

In the previous (July/August) issue of Chimica OGGI / Chemistry TODAY I discussed that when producing drop-in hydrocarbons such as ethylene, propylene and para-xylene from carbohydrates (sugars), we are removing mass by removing all oxygen, which is more than 50% of the molecular weight of a C5H10O5 or C6H12O6 sugar molecule. It was shown that in the best cases we need at least 3 kg of sugars to produce 1 kg of bio-ethylene or bio-para-Xylene and that with the current sugar prices, the feedstock cost alone for these drop-in products using these production routes is close to the product selling price. As drop-in products cannot compete on performance (the molecules are the same), it is required that they can (eventually) compete on price.

Hydrocarbons like ethylene, propylene and ...