Sustainability assessment of glucose production technologies from highly recalcitrant softwood including scavengers
Journal article, 2017

The utilization of abandoned lignocellulosic residues for chemical production has a strong potential to partially substitute chemicals, which are traditionally produced from non-renewable resources. Softwood especially, with its high availability, presents a sustainable resource for the conversion to higher value-added products such as biofuels and bioplastics. In this study, we investigate mature and innovative technologies for the conversion of softwood to the platform chemical sugar from an economic and environmental perspective. We show that the conventional enzymatic hydrolysis has high economic as well as environmental burdens and that the increase of enzyme availability via a carbocation scavenger process is the key solution to overcome them. Furthermore, we present a process design based on concentrated acid hydrolysis, which is both environmentally and economically competitive compared to conventional production from sugarbeet. The low energy and raw material requirements combined with heat integration and moderate capital costs makes this technology attractive for utilization of softwood residues. This proves that lignocellulosic residues have the potential to become an important raw material in the future bioeconomy.


process design

pre-treatment technologies

economic evaluation

life cycle assessment




Merten Morales

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

Thomas Pielhop

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

Philippe Saliba

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

K. Hungerbühler

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

Philipp Rudolf von Rohr

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

Stavros Papadokonstantakis

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Energy Technology

Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining

1932-104X (ISSN) 1932-1031 (eISSN)

Vol. 11 3 441-453

Subject Categories

Chemical Process Engineering



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