Techno-economic analysis of biobased chemicals production via integrated catalytic processing

Brown, Tristan
Zhang, Yanan
Hu, Guiping
Brown, Robert
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We evaluate the economic feasibility of a fast pyrolysis facility producing biobased commodity chemicals based on various manifestations of Integrated Catalytic Processing (ICP). Five scenarios are analyzed: fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) of whole pyrolysis oil (WPO); one-stage hydrotreating and FCC of WPO; FCC of the aqueous phase of pyrolysis oil (APPO); one-stage hydrotreating and FCC of the APPO; and two-stage hydrotreating followed by FCC of the APPO.

We calculate the internal rate of return (IRR) for each scenario as functions of the costs of feedstock, hydrogen, and catalyst, and projected revenues for the facility. The assumed feedstock cost is $83/MT for mixed wood. The assumed hydrogen cost is $3/kg. Catalyst costs are based on December 2010 prices and projected revenues are based on August 2010 petrochemical prices.

The analysis indicates that a facility employing FCC of WPO or APPO without hydrotreating is unable to generate a positive IRR. Employment of two-stage hydrotreating significantly increases the facility IRR, although IRRs in excess of 10% are only attained when higher pyrolysis oil yields (70 wt%) are assumed.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining 6 (2012): 73, doi: 10.1002/bbb.344, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposed in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

fast pyrolysis, integrated catalytic processing, biobased chemicals, pyrolysis oil, Bioeconomy Institute, Mechanical Engineering