Production of Feedstock Chemicals

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Science  11 Feb 1983:
Vol. 219, Issue 4585, pp. 733-740
DOI: 10.1126/science.219.4585.733


Renewable raw materials may be converted by biological means to feedstocks for the chemical industry. Glucose from cornstarch is the current choice as a substrate, although advances may enable the use of less expensive lignocellulosic materals. The production of oxychemicals and their derivatives from renewable resources could amount to about 100 billion pounds annually, or about half of the U.S. production of organic chemicals. Ethanol produced by fermentation is now cost-competitive with industral ethanol produced from fossil fuel. Biological routes to other oxychemicals exist and are expected to be important in the future. Several product recovery methods may be used, but new energy-conserving methods will be needed to make the engineering-biology combinations economical.