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Succinic Acid and Succinic Anhydride
The Novomer CO Platform has a significant cost of production advantage for the production of succinic anhydride. The process proceeds simply and rapidly: the Novomer carbonylation catalyst is used to convert ethylene oxide and carbon monoxide to beta-propiolactone, after which a second carbon monoxide molecule is added to the beta-propiolactone in the presence of the Novomer carbonylation catalyst. Succinic anhydride is easily converted to succinic acid and 1,4-butanediol using known processes.
Succinic acid is a chemical intermediate that was identified by the U.S. Department of Energy's biomass program as a top 12 target molecule. Many experts predict that succinic acid has a >$10B market potential in applications that include biodegradable plastics, polyurethanes, and butanediol, just to name a few. However, the current market is very small and limited to niche applications because the petrochemical process is inefficient and costly.
There are nearly a dozen chemical companies developing technology to make succinic acid using bio-based processes. Many hurdles must be overcome in pursuing this approach. These processes can produce significant byproducts that lower yield, often require costly separation, and utilize feedstocks that compete with the food supply. Additionally, the "green" credentials of these processes are often debated because of the significant land and water use needed to grow the feedstock, and energy required during the fermentation and separation processes.
The Novomer Process Allows for Selectivity of the Molecular Weight of PPL
The Novomer's route to bio-based chemicals avoids many of the challenges of a fermentation-based approach by:
- Leveraging the use of ethanol and syngas (bio-derived) as feedstock technologies
- Using traditional chemical industry infrastructure for the production process, eliminating the need for further fermentation steps