Sugar-based chemicals and fuels technology developer Gevo recentlyannounceda joint development agreement with chemicals company LG Chem (based in South Korea) for the development of bio-propylene using Gevo’s Ethanol-to-Olefins (ETO) technology. Gevo’s ETO technology uses low-carbon ethanol to produce renewable olefins, such as bio-propylene, which can be used for sustainable chemicals and fuels, including sustainable aviation fuel. The developed bio-based propylene is expected to deliver the same performance as traditional petroleum-based products. The joint development agreement between Gevo and LG Chem will accelerate the pilot research, technical scale-up, and commercialization of bio-propylene.
现在真正的分析,如何long do you think this partnership will result in real commercial volumes? Gevo and LG Chem did not elaborate on milestone plans for their bio-propylene project. There is currently no known commercial production of sugar-based propylene, although announced development partnerships on propylene production using ethanol feedstock have increased in the past 1-2 years. Most renewable-based propylene volumes currently in the market are based on mass balance production.
There is certainly plenty of fermentation-derived ethanol capacity available worldwide that can be used to produce olefins. Still, there are several challenges in going through this route compared to fossil-based olefins production, namely, low yield, catalyst deactivation over time, energy consumption, feedstock variability, cost, and scale-up.
Historically, there have not been a lot of development partnerships announced when it comes to Gevo’s ETO technology, which reportedly can produce mixes of propylene, isobutylene and hydrogen. In 2016, Gevo announced a collaboration with Clariant to develop catalysts for Gevo’s ETO process. Underpinning the ETO technology is Gevo’s patent of proprietary mixed-metal oxide catalysts that can produce polymer-grade propylene or high-purity isobutylene, along with hydrogen, in high yields in a single process step from conventional fuel-grade ethanol. In 2017, Gevo also partnered with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Argonne National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to fine-tune the composition of the catalyst used in Gevo’s ETO process.
As far as what I know (and probably there’s a lot I don’t know), Gevo’s ETO process has never been demonstrated outside a laboratory scale output. By the way, LG Chem is a major olefins producer, and I’m sure has plenty of R&D expertise to share.
PS. The photo below was part of Gevo’s 2016 presentation (one of the many in my archives).
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