Renewable Raw Materials

TABLE 2.1 Continued

World Production"

(metric t/year)

Price6 (€/kg)

Aniline

1,300,000

0.95

Acetaldehyde

900,000

1.10

Adipic acid

1,500,000

1.70

Solvents

Methanol

25,000,000

0.15

Toluene

6,500,000

0.25

Acetone

3,200,000

0.55

"Reliable data are only available for the world production of sucrose, the figure given referring to the crop cycle 2005/2006.6 All other data are average values based on estimates from producers and/or suppliers, as the production volume of many products is not publicly available.

Prices given are those attainable in early 2006 for bulk delivery of crystalline material (where applicable) based on pricing information from the sugar industry (sugars) and the Chemical Market Reporter (2006) (acids, basic chemicals, and solvents). The listings are intended as a benchmark rather than as a basis for negotiations between producers and customers. Quotations for less pure products are, in part, sizably lower, for example, the commercial sweetener "high fructose syrup," which contains up to 95% fructose, may readily be used for large-scale preparative purposes.

"Reliable data are only available for the world production of sucrose, the figure given referring to the crop cycle 2005/2006.6 All other data are average values based on estimates from producers and/or suppliers, as the production volume of many products is not publicly available.

Prices given are those attainable in early 2006 for bulk delivery of crystalline material (where applicable) based on pricing information from the sugar industry (sugars) and the Chemical Market Reporter (2006) (acids, basic chemicals, and solvents). The listings are intended as a benchmark rather than as a basis for negotiations between producers and customers. Quotations for less pure products are, in part, sizably lower, for example, the commercial sweetener "high fructose syrup," which contains up to 95% fructose, may readily be used for large-scale preparative purposes.

sugar-derived acids are not only cheaper than any other natural product, but they compare favorably with basic organic bulk chemicals such as acetaldehyde or aniline. Actually, the first three of these sugars—sucrose, glucose, and lactose— are in the price range of some of the standard organic solvents.

Despite their large-scale accessibility, the chemical industry, at present, utilizes these mono- and disaccharides as feedstock for organic chemicals only to a minor extent, which is amply documented by the fact that of the 100 major organic

Fossil Resources

Renewable Resources

Hydrocarbons

Oxygen-free, lacking functional groups

Overfunctionalized with hydroxyl groups

HO OH OH

HO OH OH

OH OH O

D-Glucose n-Hexane

OH OH O

D-Glucose

Figure 2.2 Hydrocarbons vs. carbohydrates: more than a play on words, as their names, taken literally, reveal the basic differences in their utilization as organic raw materials.

chemicals manufactured in the United States in 1995,7 seven were derived from biofeedstocks, and of these only five—ethanol, sorbitol, citric acid, lysine, and glutamic acid—used sugars as the raw-materials source. The reasons, already alluded to, lie in the inherently different structure of carbohydrates and fossil raw materials, of which the essence is manifested in their structure-based names (Figure 2.2): Our fossil resources are hydrocarbons, distinctly hydrophobic, oxygen-free, and lacking functional groups; annual renewables are carbohydrates, overfunctionalized with hydroxyl groups and pronouncedly hydrophilic. Needless to say, that methods required for converting carbohydrates into viable industrial chemicals—reduction of oxygen content with introduction of C=C and C==O unsaturation—are diametrically opposed to those prevalent in the petrochemical industry.

Intense efforts within the last decade8-11 to boost the acquisition of organic chemicals from the sugars listed in Table 2.1 have, so far, failed to bridge the conceptional, technological, and economic gap between hydrocarbons and carbohydrates as organic raw materials.

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