Hybrid Biological–Chemical Approach Offers Flexibility and Reduces the Carbon Footprint of Biobased Plastics, Rubbers, and Fuels

Hybrid Biological–Chemical Approach Offers Flexibility and Reduces the Carbon Footprint of Biobased Plastics, Rubbers, and Fuels

TitleHybrid Biological–Chemical Approach Offers Flexibility and Reduces the Carbon Footprint of Biobased Plastics, Rubbers, and Fuels
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsLipeng Wu, Amit A Gokhale, Konstantinos Goulas, John E Myers, F. Dean Toste, Corinne Scown
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering
Volume6
Issue11
Pagination14523 - 14532
Date Published10/2018
ISSN2168-0485
KeywordsBiofuels, bioproducts, Butadiene, catalysis, Greenhouse gases, life-cycle assessment
Abstract

A critical challenge for the bioenergy research community has been producing drop-in hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals at yields sufficient to compete with their petroleum-derived counterparts. Biological production of highly reduced compounds poses fundamental challenges. Conversely, glucose, xylose, and sucrose can be fermented to ethanol at near-theoretical yields. Just as olefin crackers are often considered a gateway for petrochemical complexes that produce an array of downstream products, catalytic ethanol upgrading can potentially enable an entire biorefining complex able to produce renewable, low-carbon fuels and chemicals. By doping the Ta2O5/SiO2 catalyst with different transition metals, we show that Ostromyslensky catalysts can be utilized for direct conversion of ethanol to varying ratios of 1,3-butadiene (1,3-BD), dietheylether (DEE), and ethylene. These results are integrated into the first comprehensive analysis of ethanol conversion to 1,3-BD, DEE, and ethylene that incorporates empirical data with chemical process modeling and life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) assessment. We find that the suite of products can replace conventional rubber, plastics, and diesel, achieving as much as a 150% reduction in GHG-intensity relative to fossil pathways (net carbon sequestration). Selecting the route with the greatest ethylene and DEE output can maximize total potential emission reductions.

URLhttps://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acssuschemeng.8b03158https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acssuschemeng.8b03158
DOI10.1021/acssuschemeng.8b03158
Short TitleACS Sustainable Chem. Eng.