Rationale for Biobased Chemicals ProductionThe production of chemicals from biomass, also known as bio-based chemicals, plays a critical role in creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly future, particularly as the world strives to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Some of the advantages of biobased chemicals are listed below:
Approaches for the Production of Biobased ChemicalsThere are two main ways in which biobased chemicals can be obtained from biomass feedstocks:
How Celignis Can HelpAt Celignis our multidisciplinary team has strong understanding of: biomass chemistry, bioprocessing technologies, and the mechanisms and challenges involved in producing a wide variety of biobased chemicals. We are ready to work with you on developing a suitable bioprocess to either obtain your targeted biobased chemical from biomass or to obtain the most appropriate biobased chemicals from a given feedstock.
Butanol Chemistry and ApplicationsButanol, also known as butyl alcohol, is a four-carbon alcohol (C4H9OH) with a molecular structure that gives it properties midway between those of ethanol (a two-carbon alcohol) and gasoline (typically composed of eight to twelve carbon hydrocarbons). There are four isomeric structures for butanol: n-butanol, sec-butanol, tert-butanol, and isobutanol, each having different properties and applications.
History of Butanol ProductionThe production of butanol has switched between being largely biobased to primarily fossil fuel-derived and is now moving back towards a biobased approach due to sustainability and environmental concerns.
ABE (Acetone-Butanol-Ethanol) FermentationABE fermentation is the conventional and most widely practiced method for biobutanol production. It uses Clostridium bacteria to ferment a variety of sugars into a mixture of acetone, butanol, and ethanol.
BE (Butyrate-Ethanol) FermentationBE (Butyrate-Ethanol) fermentation is an alternative to the traditional Acetone-Butanol-Ethanol (ABE) fermentation process and is designed to overcome some of the challenges associated with ABE fermentation. BE fermentation is essentially a metabolic engineering strategy aimed at producing more butanol and less of the other by-products such as acetone.
Biomass HydrolysisThe fermentation of biobutanol requires sugars. The easiest way to obtain such sugars are from what are termed first-generation feedstocks. These are crops (e.g. sugarcane, wheat, corn) that contain these sugars in forms which are easy to hydrolyse. There are well-established efficient routes for hydrolysing sucrose and starch to monomeric glucose. However, 1st generation feedstocks can be costly, require large energy and chemical inputs for their production, and their use for biofuels and biobased chemicals can conflict with their use for food.
Challenges in Fermenting Hydrolysates of Lignocellulosic BiomassThe pretreatment and hydrolysis stages may also release other compounds into the liquid phase, for example components of the extractives, some sugar degradation products (e.g. furans, such as furfural, and organic acids), and phenolics. These compounds can complicate the downstream fermentation, hence it is important that either robust microorganisms are used for the fermentation or that the concentrations of such fermentation inhibitors are minimised. Achieving these aims requires careful work in the bioprocess development.
Valorisation of Other Biomass ComponentsLignocellulosic biomass feedstocks vary greatly in their compositions, however they all contain cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. In addition, some lignocellulosic biomass can contain significant amounts of extractives as well as ash and protein.
GasificationAn alternative route for producing biobutanol from lignocellulosic feedstocks is via the catalytic or biological reforming of the gases produced from the thermal processing of the biomass, with gasification considered to be the most suitable thermal treatment.
C6H12O6 + 3⁄2O2 -> 6CO + 3H2 + 3H2O
CO + H2O -> CO2 + H2
Syngas to Biobutanol (Catalytic Approach)The conversion of syngas to biobutanol is a thermochemical process typically carried out using a heterogeneous catalyst. The catalytic conversion process involves a series of complex reactions, with two key steps: the formation of intermediate compounds (such as aldehydes or alcohols) through a process known as Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, followed by the conversion of these intermediates into butanol.
Syngas FermentationSyngas fermentation, also known as gas fermentation or syngas bioconversion, is an alternative, biological, route for the production of products (such as biobutanol) from syngas. The process employs a group of microorganisms known as acetogens, a type of anaerobic bacteria capable of using carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), and hydrogen (H2) - the primary constituents of syngas - to grow and produce various chemicals. These organisms follow a metabolic pathway known as the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway or Acetyl-CoA pathway.
Syngas Butanol vs. Hydrolysis ButanolAdvantages of biobutanol production via gasification:
1. Understanding Your Requirements
2. Detailed Feedstock Analysis
3. Pretreatment Optimisation (Lab-Scale)
4. Hydrolysis & Fermentation Optimisation
5. Biobutanol Recovery
6. Valorisation of Remaining Biomass
7. Validation at Higher TRLs
8. Technoeconomic Analysis (TEA)
Has a deep understanding of all biological and chemical aspects of bioproceses. Has developed Celignis into a renowned provider of bioprocess development services to a global network of clients.
A dynamic, purpose-driven chemical engineer with expertise in bioprocess development, process design, simulation and techno-economic analysis over several years in the bioeconomy sector.
PhD (Analytical Chemistry)
Dreamer and achiever. Took Celignis from a concept in a research project to being the bioeconomy's premier provider of analytical and bioprocessing expertise.