Biochemicals are products derived from renewable biological sources such as plants, animals or their wastes. There are very large number of possible products that can be made using variety of feedstocks and reaction pathways. Most familiar examples include ethanol produced by fermentation, citric acid (long history) and propylene glycol (a newly introduced bio product). Most biochemicals produced serve as intermediates for production of more complex chemicals for use in various industries, most notably food/beverage, pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals.
Beyond existing production, bio derived chemicals represent a secure, renewable, and environmentally responsible alternative to petroleum-derived chemicals. Currently ~13% of the crude oil consumed by the United States is used for nonfuel chemical production. A joint report by the DOE and the U.S. Department of Agriculture concluded that U.S. agricultural and forest sources can renewably supply a billion tons per year of lignocellulosic biomass. This amount of biomass would not satisfy U.S. fuel demands, but could theoretically replace petrochemical feedstocks for chemical production with much higher value as compared to fuel.
Biomass-based processes that could replace crude oil harness enzymatic methods, microbiology, metabolic engineering, thermal and catalytic conversions to direct the transformation of sugars, lipids, and other biomass-derived molecules to the desired small molecules and polymers.
A biochemical expert is someone who has significant knowledge/experience in the area of biomass feedstocks, material (especially solids) handling, processing, reaction engineering, separations, process technology development, techno-economic and life cycle evaluations, scale up, design and manufacturing challenges, commercialization and a keen understanding of fairly new to world supply chains. Such experts typically have training as a chemist, chemical/mechanical engineer, biologist/biochemist, catalysis.
Such an expert can help client in evaluating a new process technology, help with R&D stages for scale up, help investors in vetting the technology, and connect with other experts and vendors to allow better due diligence or feasibility studies. For evaluation of new process technology, expert can help vet techno-economic analysis models, validate assumptions, help revise models to meet market realities, with an end goal to validate the feasibility for an investor. At R&D stages an experienced researcher can help guide reduction in plant complexity for scale up, help match the available literature data to reduce overall R&D expenditure, discover bottle necks at early stage to avoid practical physical limitations of available equipment from vendors. It is worth mentioning that most new technology development goes through stage gate process, as technologies mature from lab to pilot to commercial, an expert can help transition leveraging federal or commercial funds. First of kind plant based on such technology advancements especially benefit from expert help, with review/participation in designing, process control, plant layouts, construction oversight and commissioning reports. Other two areas that are of significance are plant operation/start up assistance and legal witness/expert help.
Lee Enterprises Consulting is the world’s premier bioeconomy consulting group, with over 100 highly qualified experts serving in biomass to chemicals and all the other expertise areas within the bioeconomy. Take a look at our experts and the services we provide. Most of our experts are also available to advise and serve as expert witnesses in bioeconomy litigation matters. For the larger projects, we specialize in putting together full service, interdisciplinary teams with one point of contact. Call us at 1+ (501) 833-8511 or email us for more information.