Energy and Techno-Economic Analysis of Bio-Based Carboxylic Acid Recovery by Adsorption

Patrick Saboe, Lorenz Manker, Hanna Monroe, William Michener, Stefan Haugen, Eric Tan, Ryan Prestangen, Gregg Beckham, Eric Karp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus Citations


Recent works have established bio-based carboxylic acids as adaptable precursors to renewable biofuels and chemicals. However, the separation of carboxylic acids is a major energy and cost driver, accounting for 20-40% of the entire processing cost. Improved downstream separation technologies that reduce operating costs compared to conventional approaches are needed, particularly to enable bio-based commodity fuels and chemicals. Here, we combine techno-economic analysis (TEA) and an energy and environmental assessment with experimental results to compare weak-base adsorption (WBA) processes with the conventional strong ion exchange (IX) process for the recovery of the exemplary product, butyric acid. TEA indicates that WBA has the potential to reduce operating expenses from 34% to 6% relative to the selling price of butyric acid ($1.8 kg−1). Our energy analysis shows that the WBA process has 12.2-fold energy reduction and 9.2-fold GHG emission reduction compared to the conventional IX process.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4386-4402
Number of pages17
JournalGreen Chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - 21 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2021.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2800-79174


  • adsorption
  • biochemicals
  • bioseparations
  • carboxylate platform
  • process development


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