Authors: Agirre, I; Gandarias, I; Granados, ML; Arias, PL

Article.
Biomass Convers. Biorefinery. vol: 10. page: 2190-6815.
Date: DEC. 2020.
Doi: 10.1007/s13399-019-00462-w.

Abstract:
Maleic anhydride is used worldwide for a wide range of applications: from the manufacture of resins to lubricant additives or agricultural chemicals. The current production processes use benzene or butane as raw materials. This work shows the conceptual design of two novel processes using furfural as raw material: (i) aqueous phase oxidation with H2O2 and (ii) gas phase oxidation with O-2. The aqueous process uses a cheaper furfural feedstock, but the purification train is complicated due to the vast amount of water and the presence of byproducts. Results from the economic assessment show that the aqueous process is far from being viable with up-to-day technology due to the high H2O2 cost and the low catalyst activity. In the gas phase process, the high reaction temperatures (i.e., 573 K) make necessary energy integration. The achieved minimum selling price of the maleic anhydride is around 1900 $/t, which is in the same range as its current commercial price. Sensitivity analyses showed that the maleic anhydride yield is the key parameter affecting the final cost. Technology developments in catalysis that improve the maleic anhydride yield to values above 80%, together with lower furfural prices will lead to significant cost reductions..