In Work Package (WP) 6, led by AVA BIOCHEM, the economics of the PERFORM project will be assessed, as well as the market where the technology is developed for. The results of these will be input for the exploitation plan of WP 7. All these tasks are very closely related to WP 3 and WP 4, where the system platform innovation is set up and the power platform is demonstrated (main innovations of the project). A major partner during the whole process of TEA is University of Hohenheim, who is doing the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
The technologies assessed (and which are developed in two different electrochemical lines) are as follows:
|End product of value chain||Functional unit||Reference system|
|Maleic acid||The production of 1 kg MA from furfural||Current commercial production process|
|Valeric acid||The production of 1 kg VA from levulinic acid||Current commercial production process|
|Adipic acid||The production of 1 kg AA from glucose through the intermediate glucaric acid||Current commercial production process|
Adipic acid: a very important intermediate product in the chemical industry with a volume of 3.9 million tons in 2018 and an annual growth rate of 3%. This is where the greatest challenge in the three value chains studied lies, with regard to the competitiveness of the production process to be developed, since adipic acid can be produced at highest Technology readiness Level (TRL’s) both with processes established for decades from fossil resources and also with competitive newer biotechnological and other electrochemical processes. Main partner within the project regarding adipic acid is Radici Group, Italy.
Valeric acid: is a chemical with various uses, in the speciality and consumer sector (esters of valeric acid are used in perfumes and cosmetics), food additives (ethyl valerate and pentyl valerate) and other applications (plasticisers and pharmaceuticals, fuel additives). The current industrial production method is based on the oxo process. Butylene is converted with synthesis gas (carbon monoxide-hydrogen mixture) in the presence of a catalyst to form valeraldehyde. Valeraldehyde is then oxidized to valeric acid.
Maleic acid: mainly haspotential applications as monomers for sustainable polymers and as building blocks for sustainable polyesters. MA and maleic anhydride can be converted into each other, so the production of one of them implies the availability of the other. Maleic acid is industrially produced by hydrolysis of maleic anhydride, which in turn is produced by thermocatalytic oxidation of butane in the gas phase by oxygen, catalysed by vanadium-based V-P-O catalysts, but the process yields 50-65% maleic anhydride, thus being highly inefficient.
For a technical-economic assessment, the quality of the products AA, VA and MA must be examined with regard to their usability in existing applications and compared with commercially available products. The consortium partners Radici Group, Avantium, Perstorp, TNO and VITO will be responsible for this task.
How to develop a TEA
There are two ways to do a TEA: it can be done at the end of a product or process development, or as it progresses.
AVA BIOCHEM decided to carry out the TEA along the project development, to provide early input for the optimization of the processes under an economic perspective. This results from the experience that innovative, environmentally friendly technologies are suffering from high prices, which are a major obstacle to their marketability.
Another challenge faced in this project is the relatively low level of TRL and its inconsistency among the technologies under examination. This will lead to a certain spread of results. There are ways to work around this problem, for example by using comparative technologies already assessed at a higher level. AVA BIOCHEM will implement this approach later in the project.
First steps taken in the TEA elaboration process were to discuss with all partners their current state of work and prior data already available. Together with University of Hohenheim, AVA BIOCHEM designed a reference framework, linking TEA and LCA, and defining boundaries and parameters to be analysed. By doing this, AVA BIOCHEM will provide the technology partners one single list of parameters needed for analysis both for TEA and LCA.