Process intensification in the future production of base chemicals from biomass

J.P.M. Sanders, J.H. Clark, G.J. Harmsen, H. Heeres, J.J. Heijnen, Sascha R.A. Kersten, Willibrordus Petrus Maria van Swaaij, J.A. Moulijn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

104 Citations (Scopus)


Biomass is an attractive resource for the production of bulk chemicals. Process intensification (PI) is a valuable approach in developing economical processes with a minimal global footprint which will require new infrastructure to be designed and built. An attempt is presented to describe the future architecture of the bio-based chemical industry. The field is in its infancy and it is thus instructive to consider specific case studies of biomass based production routes. The first illustrates a route to mono propylene glycol, an established bulk chemical. The thermo-chemical production of hydrogen from waste biomass streams and the production of base chemicals from amino acids highlight the potential of using agricultural rest streams. Two case studies focus on the use of lignocellulosic biomass in the production of platform molecules (isosorbide and hydroxymethylfurfural) and the last case study on the novel combination of two (relatively) new technologies for a genuinely sustainable production: microwave processing and supercritical extraction technology. In all of these case studies PI aspects are present and major technological challenges are addressed. The end result is a list of research topics with objectives that are intended to contribute to a sustainable future chemical industry for the production of bio-based chemicals
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-136
Number of pages20
JournalChemical engineering and processing : process intensification
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • METIS-288386
  • IR-81765


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