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Scientific article
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Fuels and plastics from lignocellulosic biomass via the furan pathway: an economic analysis

Published inBiofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining, vol. 9, no. 3, p. 307-325
Publication date2015
Abstract

Furan compounds represent a class of chemicals that have the potential to become platform chemicals due to their attractive properties thanks to their structure. In a previous publication, three biorefi nery cases were presented that convert wheat straw into polyethylene furanoate (PEF) and furfuryl ethyl ether (FEE) and analyzed from a technical point of view. In this paper, the production costs were calculated using the net present value methodology, including a sensitivity analysis to determine the effects for changes in fi nancial parameters, feedstock, chemicals, and market prices. In order to compete with petrochemical polymers, the production costs of PEF has to be around 1500 $/tonne. For the base case, all three cases approach this level of 1500 $/tonne; the production costs for Case I are 1495 $/tonne PEF and Case II at 1555 $/tonne PEF. For Case III, the costs are calculated to be negative (at −131) $/tonne. This is because PEF is not the main product within Case III, as dimethyl ether (DME) and methyl levulinate (ML) account for 75% of the product basket. The results show that the production of PEF can become a competitive alternative for petrochemical PET, under the condition of large scale production, proper price levels for the by-products FEE and ML, and the availability of sustainable harvested wheat straw at an assumed cost between 50 and 150 $/tonne. Considering also the improved material performance of PEF and a potentially more favorable greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint, PEF produced from biomass may become a superior plastic to PET produced from petrochemical feedstocks. © 2015 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Keywords
  • Biorefi nery
  • Lignocellulosic biomass
  • Furan
  • Organosolv
  • PEF
  • Bio-based fuels and plastics
Citation (ISO format)
EERHART, Aloysius J.J.E., PATEL, Martin, FAAIJ, André P.C. Fuels and plastics from lignocellulosic biomass via the furan pathway: an economic analysis. In: Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining, 2015, vol. 9, n° 3, p. 307–325. doi: 10.1002/bbb.1537
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ISSN of the journal1932-1031
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