Techno-economic analysis of Di-butyl ketone, Di-methyl furan and Hydroxymethyl furfural production from biomass based resources

Patel, Akshay
Major Professor
Robert P. Anex
Committee Member
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

New chemical conversion processes are being developed to convert biobased resources into low oxygen chemical compounds which are characteristic of the fuels and chemicals used today. It is important to analyze the technical and economic feasibility of these pathways at an early stage in development to ensure most useful allocation of further resources. In this study techno-economic analysis was conducted on two representative processes based on chemical catalysts for production of low oxygen chemical compounds, with potential fuel and commodity chemical uses. First process focuses on producing Dibutyl ketone from Levulinic acid which is a platform chemical derived from biomass. Dibutyl ketone can have wide ranging applications as a solvent and as a precursor of fuel range hydrocarbons. In the second process Hydroxymethyl furfural and Dimethyl furan are produced from Fructose. Hydroxymethyl furfural can be a precursor for a wide variety of useful compounds. Dimethyl furan has superior properties for use as a fuel. Engineering process models for these processes were created based on lab scale data. Economic analysis was performed to estimate total capital investment, operating expenses and minimum product selling price. Sensitivity analysis is used to quantify the impact of important parameters on yields, cost and price. Critical technical and economic bottlenecks and uncertainties in the large scale implementation of these processes and chemical conversion pathways in general have been identified. Feasibility of these processes and products for practical applications is discussed and areas for further research and development have been highlighted.

Keywords: Techno-economic analysis, Biobased, Fuels, Chemicals, Dibutyl ketone, Hydroxymethyl furfural, Dimethyl furan