Waste to Aromatics

Projecttitel: Waste to Aromatics
Projectnummer: BBE-1402
Looptijd: 2014 – 2019
Budget: € 733.000
Betrokken partijen: AEB, Biobased Delta, Knowaste, Orgaworld, Port of Amsterdam, Sabic, Stowa, TNO, Twence, Vereniging Afvalbedrijven, Zeton

Aromatic compounds such as phenol, benzoic acid and terephthalic acid are key components in many applications and as a result 40% of the bulk chemicals is based on aromatics. The predominant feedstock for aromatics is crude oil. However, crude oil is a finite resource of which extraction is becoming more and more costly. Fortunately, a promising alternative feedstock for aromatics is available to us in the form of biomass, which is renewable, locally produced and cost competitive. The most promising biobased route towards aromatics, both in terms of economy and sustainability, is based on biomass-derived sugars and proceeds via furanic intermediates. Up to today, worldwide research efforts are focused on the conversion of refined sugars and agricultural residues. However, techno-economic assessments revealed that these 1st and homogeneous 2nd generation feedstocks are too costly for economically feasible production of bulk aromatics.

TNO and the waste management industry have teamed up in the Waste2Aromatics consortium to develop technology that enables conversion of low-cost carbohydrate-rich biogenic waste from industrial and/or domestic origin in a single step into furanics (HFM and furfural). The possibility to convert these heterogeneous 2nd generation feedstocks creates a whole new potential for the biobased economy. In Waste2Aromatics – phase I, TNO determined together with Orgaworld, AEB and Attero which waste streams are suitable as feedstock and developed two technologies to convert these in a single step into furanics such as furfural and 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), namely biphasic reactor and steam based technology. Result driven business case analysis revealed that conversion of selected waste streams using either of the two technologies has high potential in a profitable and cost-competitive value chain for the production of sustainable bulk aromatics.

Aim of the next phase, Waste2Aromatics – phase II, is to transform the successful lab-scale concepts of Waste2Aromatics – phase I into continuous processes at a scale that provides relevant information for further scale-up. More specific, the objectives are to provide a proof-of-concept for BPR and steam technology at a continuous 1-10 liter/hour-scale, to improve the conversion yields up to 75% for both HMF and levulinic acid, to determine the required degree of pretreatment in relation to potential costs savings, to allow feedstock flexibility by enabling mixing of different waste streams without comprising conversion yields, to maximize revenues and sustainability by product valorization, to achieve efficient and cost-competitive solvent recycling and to realize cost competitive separation of furanics and other products from process fluids (steam, solvent, biomass residue).