The bio-based transition:
drop-in versus new products
In this new column in Chimica OGGI / Chemistry TODAY, I will discuss and (critically) review new developments in sustainable chemistry using my 25 years of experience in industrial research, the last 15 years of which I mainly worked on novel industrial sustainable chemistry opportunities. In discussing new emerging technologies we can distinguish drop-in products (same molecule but now for example bio-based) and new products (currently not produced at large scale). Three key parameters play an important role in determining ultimate commercial potential of a new process technology: (1) estimated production cost at various stages required up to and including full commercial scale (2) product performance and (3) ecological footprint. Many developments, certainly in a start-up environment focus on the chance of technical success first and foremost. Note that I do not include this parameter along the 3 mentioned above. I rather consider this to be included in (1). Technically, conversions can be done. The question is if they can be done at a competitive production cost.
As drop-in products cannot compete on performance (the molecules are the same), it is required that ...