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1,4-Butanediol (BDO) from Bio-Succinic Acid

By Chemical Engineering |

The compound 1,4-butanediol (BDO) is a versatile intermediate for the chemical industry. Its largest derivative product is tetrahydrofuran (THF), which is used to make spandex fibers, resins, solvents and printing inks. The second largest product is polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), which is used to make high-performance materials, electronics and automotive equipment. BDO can be produced from different technologies and raw materials. The conventional method for manufacturing BDO is the Reppe process, starting from acetylene. Other processes use propylene oxide, maleic anhydride, 1,3-butadiene or n-butane as starting points. The newest technologies being developed for BDO are bio-based pathways, which mostly rely on bio-based succinic acid derived from biomass or a sugar substrate. Succinic acid is a platform chemical that can be used to produce many products. However, its high cost of production from petroleum raw sources limits its use to specific applications (such as pharmaceuticals and food additives). According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE), bio-succinic acid is a renewable building-block chemical with great potential for the future. FIGURE 1. The 1,4-butanediol process from bio-succinic acid that is shown here is…
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