On the Economics and Process Design of Renewable Butadiene from Biomass-Derived Furfural

Anatoliy Kuznetsov, Gaurav Kumar, M. Alexander Ardagh, Michael Tsapatsis, Qi Zhang, Paul J. Dauenhauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The catalytic conversion of biomass-derived furfural to 1,3-butadiene is a potential synthetic route to renewable rubber. In this work, we present and evaluate a conceptual process design consisting of three steps: (i) decarbonylation of furfural to furan, (ii) hydrogenation of furan to tetrahydrofuran, and (iii) dehydra-decyclization of tetrahydrofuran to 1,3-butadiene. Detailed reaction and separation systems are designed using process simulation and economic optimization. At a scale of 77 kton year-1 of furfural (100 kmol h-1) purchased at .84 kg-1 ($176 kmol-1), a minimum sale price of butadiene of $5.43 kg-1 is calculated. The selectivities of the decarbonylation and dehydra-decyclization catalysts are identified as the key process parameters by performing a sensitivity analysis on the minimum selling price of butadiene. Economic and technological factors necessary to achieve a minimum sale price of butadiene below .50 kg-1 ($81 kmol-1) are identified. A quantitative treatment of process sustainability results in a carbon efficiency of ∼58% and an E-factor of ∼1.5 for the overall process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3273-3282
Number of pages10
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number8
StatePublished - Mar 2 2020

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© 2020 American Chemical Society.


  • biomass
  • butadiene
  • economics
  • furfural
  • process


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