Scientific article

Today's and tomorrow's bio-based bulk chemicals from white biotechnology: a techno-economic analysis

Published inApplied biochemistry and biotechnology, vol. 136, p. 361-388
Publication date2007

Little information is yet available on the economic viability of the production of bio-based bulk chemicals and intermediates from white biotechnology (WB). This paper details a methodology to systematically evaluate the techno-economic prospects of present and future production routes of bio-based bulk chemicals produced with WB. Current and future technology routes are evaluated for 15 products assuming prices of fermentable sugar between 70 e/t and 400 e/t and crude oil prices of US $25/barrel and US $50/barrel. The results are compared to current technology routes of petrochemical equivalents. For current state-of-the-art WB processes and a crude oil price of US $25/barrel, WB-based ethanol, 1,3-propanediol, polytrimethylene terephthalate and succinic acid are economically viable. Only three WB products are economically not viable for future technology: acetic acid, ethylene and PLA. Future-technology ethylene and PLA become economically viable for a higher crude oil price (US $50/barrel). Production costs plus profits of WB products decrease by 20–50% when changing from current to future technology for a crude oil price of US $25 per barrel and across all sugar prices. Technological progress in WB can thus contribute significantly to improved economic viability of WB products. A large-scale introduction of WB-based production of economically viable bulk chemicals would therefore be desirable if the environmental impacts are smaller than those of current petrochemical production routes.

  • White biotechnology
  • Industrial biotechnology
  • Bulk chemicals
  • Economic analysis
  • Future technology
  • Fermentation
  • Generic approach
  • 1,3-propanediol
Affiliation Not a UNIGE publication
Citation (ISO format)
HERMANN, Barbara G., PATEL, Martin. Today’s and tomorrow’s bio-based bulk chemicals from white biotechnology: a techno-economic analysis. In: Applied biochemistry and biotechnology, 2007, vol. 136, p. 361–388. doi: 10.1007/s12010-007-9031-9
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0273-2289

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