Combined fermentation and thermocatalytic conversion of biomass to isoprene comprises a hybrid process to provide the key monomer in the manufacturing of renewable synthetic rubber. In this work, design and economic evaluation of a chemical process considers the three-step process chemistry: (a) fermentation of glucose to either mesaconic or itaconic acid, (b) catalytic hydrodeoxygenation of mesaconic or itaconic acid to 3-methyl-tetrahydrofuran, and (c) catalytic dehydra-decyclization of 3-methyl-tetrahydrofuran to isoprene. Detailed reaction and separation systems were designed to maximize catalytic yield to isoprene and recover it with high purity. An economic sensitivity analysis identified hydrodeoxygenation and dehydra-decyclization catalytic selectivity as the critical opportunities for improving process economics. The process based on existing catalytic performance achieves a minimum sale price of isoprene (defined as the price which results in a project net present value of zero) of $4.07 kg -1 ($1.85 lb m -1 ) at a scale of 100,000 t yr -1 of mesaconic acid purchased at $1.00 kg -1 . Six process enhancements based on improved future catalytic technology are considered, with several scenarios achieving a minimum sale price of isoprene below $2.50 kg -1 ($1.13 lb m -1 ).
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding for this project was provided by the Center for Sustainable Polymers, a NSF Center for Chemical Innovation (CHE-1413862). Additional funding was provided by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.
© 2019 American Chemical Society.
- Itaconic acid
- Mesaconic acid
- Process design
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Dauenhauer, P. J., Lundberg, D. J. & Lundberg, D. J., Data Repository for the University of Minnesota, 2018