The production of chemicals from biomass has received significant attention due to its potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In this work, we develop a systematic framework to quantitatively analyze the mitigation potential of 25 large-volume and promising platform biochemicals. To properly account for the energy requirements of producing different biochemicals, we construct material and energy balances of the biorefinery and develop simulation and optimization models to calculate the energy needed to separate and purify these biochemicals. We show that biomass-based production can lead to significant GHG mitigation. Notably, 24 out of the 25 biochemicals have lower GHG emissions compared to their fossil-fuel-derived counterparts. Under the most conservative assumptions (i.e., 25% conversion and high separation energy), biochemicals can reduce GHG emissions by up to 88%. Under the most optimistic assumptions (i.e., 75% conversion and easy separation), the emission reductions can be as great as 94%. Finally, we discuss constraints on the fraction of chemicals that can be replaced due to biomass availability limitations and identify molecular characteristics that can be used for the prioritization of chemicals to be produced from biomass.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- GHG mitigation
- Molecular characteristics