287218 Economic and Environmental Assessment of Bio-Based Chemicals Production in Singapore's Petrochemical Cluster

Thursday, November 1, 2012: 2:10 PM
334 (Convention Center )
Ang Li1, Arief Adhitya2, Iskandar Halim2, Balaji Balagurunathan2 and Rajagopalan Srinivasan3, (1)Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore, (2)Process Science and Modeling, Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences, Singapore, Singapore, (3)Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India

Singapore is one of the major centers for oil, gas, and petrochemicals in the world. The centerpiece of Singapore’s petrochemical industry is the Jurong Island complex, which houses many of the world’s leading petroleum and petrochemical companies. Currently, the total refining capacity of Singapore is 1.3 million bpd [1] and the ethylene capacity is 2.1 million tons per year, projected to reach 4 million tons per year by 2014 [2]. The petrochemical industry in Singapore is heavily dependent on fossil fuel-based feedstock, mostly crude oil and natural gas. Use of fossil fuels has negative environmental impact due to the greenhouse gas emission. Another crisis arising from overdependence on fossil fuels is their rapid depletion. Fossil fuels are non-renewable, which means they are finite and might well run out in the near future – a study found that fossil fuels reserve depletion times for oil, coal, and gas are approximately 35, 107, and 37 years, respectively [3]. This rapid depletion might render petrochemical production increasingly unsustainable as fossil fuels prices continue to rise. Thus, alternative sources have to be found for continued production and growth of the petrochemical industry.

Biomass is one possible source of renewable feedstock. Biomass is abundantly available on earth in the form of plants and organisms and considered to be carbon neutral [4]. Due to the complex carbon backbone and existing chemical functionality, the processing of biomass along the chemical synthesis chain can significantly reduce the energy requirement as compared with fossil fuels-based feedstock [5]. In this paper, we investigate the feasibility of incorporating bio-based raw materials into the slate of feedstocks available for chemicals production in Jurong Island. We survey the chemicals currently produced in the cluster and identify potential bio-based chemicals that can be produced. A techno-economic assessment based on current technology is then conducted taking into account production quantities, costs, and conversion yields. After the necessary supply chain is established, cost and carbon footprint assessment of the supply chain using various bio-renewable feedstocks sourced from the region is presented.


  1. http://www.edb.gov.sg/edb/sg/en_uk/index/industry_sectors/energy/industry_background.html, accessed on 1 May 2012.
  2. http://www.siew.sg/energy-perspectives/energy-singapore/singapores-role-global-ethylene-production, accessed on 1 May 2012.
  3. Shafiee, S. and Topal, E. (2009). Energ Pol, 37(1), 181-189.
  4. Boom, R., Brehmer, B., and Sanders, J. (2009). Maximum fossil fuel feedstock replacement potential of petrochemicals via biorefineries. The Institution of Chemical Engineers. Elsevier B. V.
  5. Sanders, J., Scott, E., Weusthuis, R., and Mooibroek, H. (2007). Macromol Biosci, 7(2), 105-117.

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