274048 Economic Analysis of the Production of p-Xylene From 5-Hydroxymethyfurfural

Tuesday, October 30, 2012: 9:45 AM
322 (Convention Center )
Zhaojia Lin, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ, Vladimiros Nikolakis, Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Delaware, Newark, DE and Marianthi G. Ierapetritou, Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ

Economic analysis of the production of p-xylene from 5-hydroxymethyfurfural

Zhaojia Lin1, Vladimiros Nikolakis2, Marianthi Ierapetritou1

1 Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Rutgers - The State University of New Jersey

2. Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation & Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, University of Delaware

This work focuses on the techno-economic analysis of alternative routes for the production of p-xylene from 5-hydroxymethyfurfural (HMF), which is a biomass derived platform chemical. P-xylene is a key intermediate in the production of terepthalic acid, which can be polymerized to polyester polyethylene terephthalate (PET). PET is a polymer resin widely used in the synthesis of fibers and beverage containers. Currently, p-xylene is primarily made from petroleum-based feedstocks. However, depleting oil resources and rising prices motivates the development of routes for the efficient synthesis of fuels and chemicals from renewable sources [1]. 5-hydroxymethyfurfural (HMF), which is considered as one of the ten most promising biomass-derived chemicals [2], can be used as a raw material for p-xylene synthesis [3-6]. The conversion of HMF to p-xylene can be carried out in two steps: from HMF to 2,5-dimethylfuran (DMF) and from DMF to p-xylene. First, HMF hydrodeoxygenation can form DMF using either hydrogen [5] or formic acid as an alternative hydrogen source [6]. Then DMF can react with ethylene [3, 7] or acrolein [4], followed by a dehydration reaction, to convert p-xylene. Each route has advantages and disadvantages in terms of use of renewable feedstocks, raw materials and utility costs. The aims of this work are to propose alternative flowsheets, to evaluate the economics of the production, to determine the major contributors of the total cost, and to explore and identify potential approaches to reduce these costs.

The analysis was carried out in two stages. In the first stage, an approximate evaluation of the various alternatives is performed considering different separation methods and rough estimates of the various parameters needed, whereas at the second stage a detailed economic estimation of the most promising path is performed. It is found that conversion and selectivity, the values of which were taken from the literature [5, 7], are the most important parameters that affect recycling streams and separations; and consequently the process economics. Finally sensitivity analysis was used to examine the impact of different factors on economics and to identify the most significant catalyst, material or reactor properties, and the improvement of which will have the maximum impact on process economics.

The basic models and different flowsheets were studied using ASPEN Plus [8]. ASPEN Economic Analyzer [9] was also utilized to determine the production cost of p-xylene, considering the raw material costs of HMF, H2, and ethylene [10, 11]. The main findings of this work contain the minimum selling cost of bio-based p-xylene, the impacts of different factors on the total cost and potential development to improve the economics of the conversion process.


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2.            Bozell, J.J. and G.R. Petersen, Technology development for the production of biobased products from biorefinery carbohydrates-the US Department of Energy's "Top 10" revisited. Green Chemistry, 2010. 12(4): p. 539-554.

3.            Brandvold, T.A., Carbohydrate route to para-xylene and terephthalic acid, 2010, US Patent  2010/0331568 A1.

4.            Shiramizu, M. and F.D. Toste, On the Diels–Alder Approach to Solely Biomass-Derived Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET): Conversion of 2,5-Dimethylfuran and Acrolein into p-Xylene. Chemistry – A European Journal, 2011. 17(44): p. 12452-12457.

5.            Roman-Leshkov, Y., et al., Production of dimethylfuran for liquid fuels from biomass-derived carbohydrates. Nature, 2007. 447(7147): p. 982-985.

6.            Thomas B. Rauchfuss, T.T., Efficient method for preparing 2,5-dimethylfuran, 2011, US 2011/0263880 A1.

7.            C. Luke Williams, C.-C.C., Phuong Do, Raul F. Lobo, Wei Fan, Paul J. Dauenhauer, Cycloaddition of biomass-derived furans for catalytic production of renewable p-xylene. Submitted.

8.            Aspen Plus User Guider, 2000, Aspen Technology Inc.

9.            Aspen Process Economic Analyzer, 2009, Aspen Technology Inc.

10.          ICIS pricing.  [cited 2011, 28th October]; Available from: www.icispricing.com.

11.          Kazi, F.K., et al., Techno-economic analysis of dimethylfuran (DMF) and hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) production from pure fructose in catalytic processes. Chemical Engineering Journal, 2011. 169(1–3): p. 329-338.


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