Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Isobutene from Biomass: Synthetic Bio Solutions

A French synthetic biology company has devised a means for producing isobutene from sugars. Isobutene is a valuable and important feedstock for many industrial processes. This new synthesis opens another important door for biomass to fuels, biomass to chemicals, biomass to plastics, biomass to rubber, etc etc
The overall equation for the isobutene production process developed by Global Bioenergies is:

C6H12O6 → C4H8 + 2 CO2 + 2 H2O

The process is designed to be used downstream from three sugar production pathways: sugar, starch and cellulose. The process can thus be used with cellulosic biomass, following pretreatment and hydrolysis. _GCC
Isobutene is used in the production of rubber for the tire industry as well as in manufacturing processes for plastics, antioxidants, and fine chemicals. Additionally, isobutene is the source material of polyisobutene, which is a precursor material for lubricant and fuel additives as well as adhesives and sealants. _Source
First, perfect your processes for high value, lower volume chemicals. By that means you can pay for the perfecting of your processes for much higher volume fuels. Although fuels give lower profit margins than high value chemicals, it is the high volume of fuels that provides the much higher overall gross profits.

Later on, after ground transportation has largely shifted to electric transport, and sea transportation has shifted to small nukes, you can fall back to high value feedstock production as your liquid fuels market shrinks away.

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