Chemical Engineering and Industrial Chemistry

Integration of biowaste into chemical reaction networks



As the chemical sector looks to decarbonize, one promising solution is the utilization of bio-feedstocks and biowaste to produce functional molecules. There is, therefore, great interest in understanding how and where to integrate these resources within chemical supply chains. To assist such efforts, screening methodologies relying on large reaction networks have recently been proposed.1,2 However, they are currently hindered by a lack of data for region-specific heterogenous raw materials compositions, as well as upstream pretreatments to isolate the important feedstocks. This study illustrates the workflow and data requirements of early stage biowaste stream evaluation through a case study on the waste landscape in and around the Singapore region. We first investigate biowaste sources that are available, stable in quantities, underutilized, pure, and yielding the feedstocks of interest. Oil palm empty fruit bunch (EFB), a lignocellulosic biowaste stream widely available in Malaysia and Indonesia, meets these criteria. We then simulate an ethanol organosolv pretreatment process for the fractionation of cellulose, lignin and xylose from EFB, and characterise the economic and environmental performances of the process through its exergy profile; this enables a link to chemical pathway identification in reaction networks. This study outlines the initial steps towards generating open datasets on biowaste for development of sustainable supply chains.


Thumbnail image of Biowaste Submission arxiv 7-10-21.pdf