Prioritization of Lignocellulosic Biomass Conversion Pathways for Economic and Environmental Sustainability
Production of chemicals (or bioproducts) from biomass provides a promising opportunity to enhance the economics and environment sustainably, compared to fossil-derived chemicals. It is expected and reported the increase of market size for bio-based chemical production. Bioproduct conversion technologies, however, are still in their early stages including strain development, optimization/scaling up of fermentation, and separation/purification of bioproducts. Of various possibilities in lignocellulosic biomass conversion processes, it is critical that we quickly prioritize conversion technologies and bioproduct targets. Thus, the research objective is to rapidly prioritize research for the valorization of lignocellulosic biomass via biocatalyzed conversions and establish a roadmap for process development. To achieve the objective, we firstly focus on sugar-derived building organic acids including lactic, citric, succinic, 3-hydroxypropionic, muconic, adipic, butyric, and propionic acids as bioproducts to characterize the economic performance with a rapid, rigorous simulation tool called Biorefinery Simulation and Techno-Economic Analysis Moduels in Python (BioSTEAM). Fermentation and separation unit processes are modeled based on experimental data and heuristic approaches for techno-economic analysis ($ kg-1). The sustainability assessment via TEA and/or life cycle assessment (LCA) will leverage to prioritize research needs to achieve more rapid progress financially viable and environmentally sustainable products.