Techno-Economic Assessment of Conceptual Design for Gamma-Valerolactone Production over a Bifunctional Zr–Al–Beta Catalyst
Gamma-valerolactone (GVL) is a promising precursor for the preparation of biofuels and fuel-range hydrocarbons. This work shows the conceptual design of a process for the production of GVL from levulinic acid by means of catalytic transfer hydrogenation (CTH) over a bifunctional Zr–Al–Beta catalyst using an excess of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) acting as the hydrogen donor and solvent. The process is advantageously conducted in the liquid phase under moderate conditions, avoiding the use of high-pressure hydrogen. A techno-economic analysis of the process is presented, considering a production scale of 368.9 kg/h of GVL (ca. 85.5% GVL mass yield from levulinic acid). Such an analysis considers two main process sections, namely, (i) the reaction unit and (ii) the downstream purification section designed to achieve 99 wt % GVL purity together with 95% recovery of unreacted IPA. The analysis provides an investment of 6.4 MM€ with 7.5 MM€ annual operational costs (74% corresponding to reactants). The Minimum Selling Price for GVL is estimated to be 3076 €/ton. Finally, cost sensitivity analyses revealed the high IPA purchasing price and losses in side reactions (autoetherification) as the main obstacles to obtain a GVL competitive market price through this approach.
Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society. This publication is licensed under CC-BY 4.0.
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