Prospective life cycle assessment of bio-based adipic acid production from forest residues
Journal article, 2017

Abstract Environmental concerns related to the production of bulk chemicals are growing. Researchers and technology developers are currently looking into alternative production pathways for such chemicals by utilizing renewable resources, such as lignocellulosic feedstocks. Adipic acid is an example of such a bulk chemical, and its conventional fossil-based production emits significant amounts of N2O, a major greenhouse gas. In this study, a prospective life cycle assessment (LCA) of bio-based adipic acid production from forest residues at an early development stage, situated in Sweden, was conducted. Acid-catalyzed (using SO2) and alkaline (using NaBH4) pretreatment were employed and scenarios and sensitivity analyses were conducted. The potential environmental impacts of this technology under development were compared to those of conventional adipic acid production. The results show that bio-based adipic acid production has a lower impact on global warming, eutrophication and photochemical ozone creation compared to fossil-based production. In contrast, it has a higher impact on acidification. An increased efficiency of mitigating \{N2O\} emissions from the fossil-based production may alter this comparison. Producing bio-based adipic acid using the alkaline pretreatment has a higher environmental impact than producing it using acid-catalyzed pretreatment. Furthermore, if biomass is used to fulfil process energy demands, instead of fossil fuel, the environmental impact of the bio-based production decreases. It is therefore important to reduce the amount of NaBH4 used in the alkaline pretreatment or to lower the environmental impact of its production.

Forest residues

Acid-catalyzed pretreatment

Adipic acid

Life cycle assessment

Alkaline pretreatment



Rio Aryapratama

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Environmental Systems Analysis

Mathias Janssen

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Environmental Systems Analysis

Journal of Cleaner Production

0959-6526 (ISSN)

Vol. 164 434-443

Upgrading of renewable domestic raw materials to value-added bulk and fine chemicals for a biobased economy: technology development, systems integration and environmental impact assessment (BioBuF)

Formas, 2013-06-17 -- 2018-12-31.

Region Västra Götaland, 2013-11-01 -- 2018-10-31.

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Subject Categories


Environmental Engineering

Bioprocess Technology

Areas of Advance




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