Criteria for Evaluating Biomass to Chemicals

Birmingham, J. - Presenter, Origin Materials

Conversion of lignocellulose biomass to value-added chemicals has gained significant attention over the last decade for potential replacement of fossil fuel-derived species. In comparison to petrochemical sources, lignocellulose can provide a low-cost, low-volatility, sustainable source of carbon needed to meet the ever-growing demand for materials production. Additionally, use of biomass allows for preservation of functional groups present in oxygen-rich cellulosic feedstocks, granting access to a broader range of platform chemicals (ie. organic acids, furans, etc.) than readily achievable through conventional petrochemical pathways. However, significant technical and market challenges exist for biomass-to-chemicals processes – not least the direct competition with incumbent, highly-optimized synthesis routes from fossil fuels. As such, developing accurate mental models for evaluating such potential processes proves valuable. This session will provide examples of screening criteria including cellulose content, bulk solids density, harvesting frequency, etc. that can be applied when considering biomass-to-chemicals processes.