(743g) Scalable Platform Technology for Bio-Based p-Xylene Production Using a Novel Continuous Flow Micro-Reactor | AIChE

(743g) Scalable Platform Technology for Bio-Based p-Xylene Production Using a Novel Continuous Flow Micro-Reactor


Athaley, A. - Presenter, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Desir, P., University of Delaware
Saha, B., University of Delaware
Ierapetritou, M., University of Delaware
This work focuses on the techno-economic analysis and life cycle analysis of bio-based p-Xylene(pX) production. The development of efficient and economically sustainable routes for biobased chemical production has raised a lot of interest especially for the platform chemicals such as hydromethylfurfural (HMF), furfural, levulinic acid, etc[1, 2]. Although immense growth has taken place in creating routes to produce these chemicals from different sources of biomass, little has been achieved in advancing these new processes to a higher technology readiness and maturity levels.

Bio-based pX has drawn considerable attention because it is the main precursor for polyester polyethyleneterephthalate (PET), a polymer resin broadly used in the synthesis of fibers, films, and beverage containers[3]. Several companies, such as Coca Cola, Pepsi, Avantium and Procter & Gamble have launched projects toward the utilization of bio-based PET[4-6]. To address this increasing interest in our previous work we evaluated the economics and environmental impacts of bio-based p-Xylene using innovative catalysts route with high selectivity and yield [7-9].

In this study, we propose on using a novel, biphasic, multifunctional, continuous flow microreactor in series to carry out cascade of reactions combined with reactive extraction followed by a hydrophobicity-driven separation process and another multiphase slurry microreactor. The use of microreactors exhibit multiple advantages including: enhancing reaction rates, reduction of total reaction and heating times from hours to seconds, improvement of carbon efficiency, and increasing energy efficiency. By employing a unique separation method, we can minimize separation complexity as well as reduce energy consumption.

This work uses techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment to design and evaluate the integration of the different production processes. The detailed process flowsheet is developed and simulated using Aspen Plus® V11.0 and feasible flowsheet variants are generated. Next, heat integration is performed using Aspen Energy Analyzer® v11.0 which is used to reduce the operating costs of the process. For economic analysis, Aspen Economic Analyzer® is used to obtain the overall capital and operating cost of the process and the minimum selling price is calculated and compared with existing conventional processes. Sensitivity analysis is performed to analyze the bottlenecks of the entire process and to compare the impact of variable cost of raw materials and capacity of the plant. To check the competitiveness of the above process in terms of sustainability, Life Cycle Analysis is carried out using SimaPro® which gives us various impact assessment to interpret the life cycle inventory (LCI), regarding environmental impact and societal preferences, and to formulate conclusions and recommendations for the overall process design. The results with respect to different environmental indicators including carbon emission and water consumption are presented and compared to our conventional processes.


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