Biomass as a raw material for the chemical industry
Beside the questions about the future energy supply the raw material change in the chemical industry is a main part of this project. In these considerations biomass plays always a key role because it is the only renewable carbon source in the nature. Since the properties of these new bio-based reactants differ from the existing petrochemicals (e.g. the very polar bounding in these components) an adaption of existing processes and the systematic development of new production concepts is a main future challenge for chemical engineering. Possible routes for future application of biomass as raw material in the organic chemical industry are depicted in following figure.. Today oil is the main raw material for the chemical industry, with a share more than 75%. Oil is fragmented into smaller building blocks such as ethylene and propylene; all other chemicals are synthesized from these components. In the future all these blocks should be built up more directly from biomass. From this figure different approaches for the raw material change can be distinguished. In one approach biomass is converted to synthetic gas and all other products are built up from the so-called C1 building blocks. An other approach is utilizing the synthesis power in plants to reduce the energy demand in this new biochemical industry. Hence more complex molecular structures should be produced from biomass as intermediates. This approaches could be compared and evaluated via energy and mass balances.