Lux Research, acompany that offers strategic consultation and intelligence services for emerging technologies, has released a report titled “Pruning the Cost of Bio-Based Materials and Chemicals.”
The report is part of the Bio-Based Materials and Chemicals Intelligence service offered by Lux Research. The premise of the report is that the bio-based materials and chemicals industry can replace petroleum based products only if they become economically viable by reaching out to non-edible sources of cellulosic and biomass material and augmenting the feedstock volumes.
As a result of heavy capital requirements, bio-based materials and chemicals manufacturing facilities are limited in numbers and are established in close proximity to sources of cane and corn. The industry survives on sugar and syngas to drive their growth.
Mark Bünger, Research Director at Lux Research and lead author of the report stated that volume can be increased by employing enzymatic hydrolysis and gasification technologies. The team of analysts from Lux Research studied the factors driving the costs of gasification, algae cultivation and enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulosics. They found that algae cultivation at industrial scale was limited by huge capital costs amounting to $202,000 per hectare and ultimately led to a 48% loss.
The process of syngas fermentation was found to hold promise of yielding new products. The already established products of the process are butanol, butyric acid, acetic acid, ethanol, methane and 2, 3-butanediol.
ZeaChem, a leading venture in this area has tied up with LanzaTech and Procter & Gamble. GraalBio’s plant in Brazil is employing enzymes from DSM and Novozymes in Enzymatic hydrolysis. The process needs to be improved in many areas, primarily in harvesting biomass that adds to the cost by $15 per ton.