Renewable Chemicals: Boon or Bane? By Yakindra Prasad Timilsena
Problem statement• Currently around 90% of all organic chemicals synthesized from mineral oil or petrochemicals (IFEU Institut, Heidelberg)• Increase in prices of mineral oils• Mineral oils- non renewable resources• Biomass easily and abundantly available locally• the growing ability of certain microorganisms to yield higher productivity of the desired chemicals
Introduction• Application of industrial biotechnology for the production of chemicals (also called green chemicals) by the use of biomass as a renewable feedstock (i.e. replacing petrochemical feedstocks)- an emerging technology• Area with extensive R&D potential for the development of a renewable feedstock based technology• Engineered microorganisms are being used to synthesize chemicals and polymers that are used in our everyday lives to produce everyday products
Major driving force• Increased consumer consciousness and demand of biobased products• Governmental support for green products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.• Renewable chemicals also reduce dependence on finite non-renewable petroleum resources• biobased products industry accounts for over 5,700 direct jobs, and is likely responsible for over 40,000 jobs in the united states only.
Why Renewable chemicals• Environmentally benign (Cleaner environment) - greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by 1.0 -2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030 through the development and implementation of biobased products and other industrial biotechnologies (WWF, 2009). - The manufacturing process of bioplastic from renewable feedstock lowers GHG by 50 per cent, compared to the manufacturing process of Nylon 6 from non-renewable feedstock.
Why Renewable chemicals• Sustainable (Better Business) - Depletion of fossil fuel is inevitable• Alternative - Replacement of petrochemicals- reduces dependency - In the US, 8.4 million barrels petroleum per day are used to 1 produce chemicals and plastics (Bio, 2010)• Cheap raw material (Better lives) - Industrial, household and municipal waste materials utilized - also make municipal waste more manageable
Why Renewable chemicals• Reliable• Low cost• Domestic raw materials• Abundant raw materials• 1.3 billion tons of biomass potential in US*• Enough for 165 billion gallons of biofuels (40 x current)• Could theoretically meet 100% of current US gasoline demand of 140 billion gallons per year *U.S. Department of Energy
Why Renewable chemicalsEnvironmental Profile• Bioplastics – Could cut US petroleum consumption by 145 million barrels/year• Compostable: could cut plastics in waste stream by 80%• Cellulosic Ethanol – Could cut US GHG emissions 22% by 2050• Enzyme bleaching - (paper, textiles) textiles)* – Reduces chlorine use by 10-15% – Cuts energy use 40% – Cuts water use 18%•
Bio-based Materials Starch Enzymatic process Bioenergy Ferment Meta Bio able bolic Polymers sugar proc Pretreatment esses Cellulose PlatformWaste process chemicals New biomaterials
Renewable (Bio-based) Chemicals
Types• Bulk chemicals• Polymers• Specialty and fine chemicals• Consumer chemicals
Examples of some polymers• Starch polymers• Polylactic acid (PLA)• Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs)• polytrimethyleneterephthalate (PTT)• Polyurethanes (PURs)• Cellulosic polymers (cellophane and cellulose acetate )
Examples of some Specialty and fine chemicals• Vitamins• Pharma intermediates• Flavors and fragrances• Industrial cleaners• Coatings• Water and effluent treatments• Agrochemicals• Fibers• Dyes and pigments• Adhesives and sealants
Fast moving consumer goods (FMCG)• Soaps, cleaning agents and detergents• Cosmetics• Personal care• Paints, varnishes and inks
Biopolymer• The polymer market is currently the strongest area for renewable chemicals. Synthetic bio-based polymers which are biodegradable (polylactic acid, polyhydroxy alkanoate) serve niche markets such as food packaging.• Bio-plastics- carbon neutral as the carbon dioxide is absorbed while growing the sugarcane to offset the carbon released during the production process and during the final decomposition process.• Production typically involves processes such as fermentation, dehydration and polymerization.
Platform chemicals• These building block chemicals have a high transformation potential into new families of useful molecules.• Major investments made in the development of processes to produce renewable intermediates like propylene glycol, succinic acid, 3-hydroxypropionic acid, and ethylene.
Cellulosic Biomass: The New Crude Oil Corn stover Sugar Cane bagasseWood chips
Currently most important products• Bioethanol• Amino Acids• Vitamins (e.g. Vitamin C)• Citric Acid• Enzymes (e.g. detergents, food, feed)• Sweeteners (e.g. Aspartame, sugar-alcohols)• Lactic AcidBiomaterials and biopolymers from renewablechemicals are a market reality and have consumerdemand, more so now than ever before.
Market• The global renewable chemicals market is estimated to reach US$ 67.13 billion in 2015 from about US$ 38.67 billion in 2010 (Markets & Markets, 2010).• Compound annual growth rate (CAGR)-14.8%• The alcohols segment holds the largest market share• The polymers segment is expected to have the highest growth rate due to the increasing applications of bio- polymers in the manufacture of biodegradable and compostable plastics and in consumer goods such as cell phones and laptops.
Market• Renewable chemicals market has been increasing• Butanediol (BDO) from renewable feedstocks – estimated market to be worth $4 billion (Genomatica) .• Replacement of phosphate in detergents by biobased chemicals worth market value of $9 billion (Rivertop).• Petroleum-derived chemicals are used in everything from the plastic in cell phones to detergent to tennis balls to car parts.
Market• Polylactic acid (PLA) via fermentation from corn starch• Polymer to be used for carpets, apparel, high-performance resins• Marketed under brand name Ingeo (Cargill), Sorona (DuPont), Mirel (Metabolix)• Rapidly growing market share in fabrics and packaging• butanediol (BDO), a chemical used in spandex, automotive plastics and running shoes.• polyester, nylon, and amino acids can also be produced from renewable raw materials
Market• The platform biorenewable chemicals (PBC) glycerin and lactic acid make up the bulk of biorenewable chemicals being sold in 2010, accounting for 79.2% of the market.
World Biobased Market Penetration 2010-2025 Chemical Sector 2010 2025Commodity Chemicals 1-2 percent 6-10 percentSpecialty Chemicals 20-25 percent 45-50 percentFine Chemicals 20-25 percent 45-50 percentPolymers 5-10 percent 10-20 percentSource: USDA, U.S. Biobased Products Market Potential and Projections Through 2025
Application of Renewable chemicals• Industrial, transportation, textiles, food safety, environment, communication, housing, recreation, health and hygiene and other applications.
Scenario of biomass for chemical products Fats and oil Carbohydrates Others (a.o. proteins)10% of the feedstock in the chemical industry (US and Germany, 2000)
Cons views• The strong point against the production of chemicals from biosources especially food crops is taken as a serious crime towards humanity. There are already 1 billion people who are forced to go to bed without food and if food crops are converted to chemicals, it will definitely increase the number of hungry people especially in developing and poor countries.
Cons views• "Soybeans and corn are showing up in carpets, disposable cups, salad bags, candles, lipstick, socks, surfboards, cooling fluid in utility transformers, and even the body panels of Deere & Co. harvesting combines” (Wall Street Journal, 2007).• One of the main cause of hike in price of food grains is the use of food grains for bioethanol and renewable chemical production.
Cons views• "a $3.25 bushel of corn can generate $15 worth of bio- plastic allowing for much greater profit margins than would come from turning the corn into food ingredients or livestock feed.” (Kilman, 2007).• Use of heather and wheat straw for extraction of chemicals lead to shortage of fodder to animals
Depicts 60,000 plastic bags, used every five seconds
2,000,000 plastic bottles, used every 5 minutes
Illustration by David Simonds
Big problems often translate into big business opportunities Ventures worldwide are using advanced, renewable materials to gain competitive edge.For suppliers and retailers, biomaterials provide a way to reduce industrial waste & avoid regulatory headaches.
Applications for Bioplastics, Biocomposites, Biopolymers AUTOMOTIVE Components, Coatings, Interiors
Applications for Bioplastics, Biocomposites, Biopolymers AGRICULTURE
Applications for Bioplastics, Biocomposites, Biopolymers EcoBags FOOD Service & Product Packaging
Applications for Bioplastics, Biocomposites, Biopolymers100% Ingeo draperies Body of Sony Walkman
Cons views• The most worrisome is the impacts on the natural environment. Growing corn to produce ethanol and other renewable chemicals consumes 200 times more water than the water used to process corn into biochemicals (U.S. National Academy of Sciences, 2007).• Use of food crop in biochemical production will impose a pressure on the forest to find more arable land for feeding the growing population
Cons views• “large increases in biofuels production in the United States and Europe are the main reason behind the steep rise in global food prices“ (WB Report, 2008)• Corn is used to feed chickens, cows, and pigs. So higher corn prices lead to higher prices for chicken, beef, pork, milk, cheese, etc.• The grain required to fill a 25 US gallons (95 L) fuel tank with ethanol will feed one person for a year (Brown, 2006)
Cons views• 800 million people are permanently malnourished,• the number of livestock on earth has quintupled since 1950.• Farming crops for chemicals will encompasses mass starvation and the eradication of tropical forests• Use of wood based raw material will lead to cutting down trees for chemicals which enhances the problem of climate change.
Ways Forward• The use of industrial crops for direct large scale chemical production beyond traditional products such as starches, sugars and oils still under development.
References• Bioscience for Business KTN, 2008. A technology assessment for the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation and Growth Team (IB-IGT).• Chemistry Innovations Ltd., 2008• Elinor L. Scott, Johan P.M. Sanders and Alexander Steinbüchel . Sustainable Biotechnology 2010, 195-210, DOI: 10.1007/978-90-481-3295-9_10• Frost & Sulivan, 2008. Strategic Analysis of the Worldwide Market for Biorenewable Chemicals
References• http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/11/04/us-dnpgreen- raises-12-million-idUSTRE5A33MB20091104• http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/partner/sbi- energy/products/biorenewable-chemicals-world-market• Kilman, 2007. Renewable" chemicals for "green" plastics gain ground• WWF, 2009. Industrial Biotechnology- More than Green Fuel in a Dirty Economy? available at- http://biofuelsandclimate.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/wwf- biotech.pdf