Biomass is an abundant source of renewable carbon that can produce functionalized oxygenated chemicals, which can be used as feedstocks to create high-performance polymers, surfactants, polymer additives, and other materials.
In the June 2018 AIChE Journal Perspective article, George W. Huber (Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison) and coworkers discuss the conversion of biomass-derived platform molecules, including levoglucosenone, hydroxymethylfurfural, and furfural, to renewable oxygenated chemicals. Most of these renewable chemicals are currently too expensive for wide-scale industrial use, primarily because they are produced on a very small scale, often in batch reactors. However, rigorous techno-economic models indicate the production price of these chemicals can be between $1,000 and $4,000 per ton when produced at moderate scales (10–30 kton/yr).
These oxygenated products give the materials industry the opportunity to create new functionality in their products using sustainable resources. The Perspective article highlights examples in which biomass-derived diols and diacids are finding applications as polyesters and in other materials.
During the past decade, multiple...
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