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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We acknowledge financial support from the National Science Foundation Center for Sustainable Polymers (NSF-CSP) at the University of Minnesota (CHE-1901635) and the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.
© 2020 American Chemical Society.