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Pruning the Cost of Bio-Based Materials and Chemicals

The expense of capital and operations still largely limit bio-based materials and chemicals to a few facilities located where corn and cane are plentiful and cheap. If not just individual factories, but the entire green chemicals industry is to scale up, the industry needs to cultivate greater volumes of cheap, local biomass, convert a wider range of feedstocks like waste and cellulosic material to intermediates, and process those intermediates into higher-value chemicals. This report models cost drivers in gasification, enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulosics, and algae cultivation to find opportunities where new technologies can turn them to profit.

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Landscape
    • The Overall Map of Feedstocks to Products
      • Modeling Cost and Consequence for Technologies in the Bio-Based Value Chain
      • Models are Useful along a Range of Levels of Detail
    • Gasification Followed by Catalytic Processing and Fermentation of Syngas
    • Cellulosic Biomass Offers Cheap, Abundant Feedstocks - if Getting Them wasn't So Hard
      • Enzymatic Hydrolysis is the Favored Means of Unlocking the Value of Cellulosic Biomass
      • Feedstock Costs of $58 per Ton, or $0.83 per Gallon Span from Seed to the Door of the Biorefinery
      • Converting Biomass to Intermediate Fermentable Sugars Adds $52 per Ton, or $0.74 per Gallon.
      • Production: the Cost of Converting Intermediates to Products Adds $46 per Ton, or $0.66 per Gallon
    • Landscape Conclusions
  • Analysis
    • Algae Cultivation (Cl)aims to Provide Vast Amounts of Inexpensive Biomass
      • Capital Costs of $202,000 per Hectare Establish the Playing Field
      • Amplifying Algae Feedstock, from Pond to Paste
      • Detailing the Model of Algae Growth and Lipid Content
      • Conversion Gets the Algae Out of the Water and the Water Out of the Algae, at a Daily Cost of $37.
      • Production of Intermediates Like Oils, Carbohydrates and Protein into Product Adds $18 to the Tab
      • High Costs for Capital and Water Sink the Algae Enterprise
  • Outlook
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