Chemicals from Biomass: Petrochemical Substitution Options

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Science  26 Jun 1981:
Vol. 212, Issue 4502, pp. 1465-1471
DOI: 10.1126/science.212.4502.1465


As a source of chemicals, biomass has several intrnsic advantages over fossil mass: it is renewable, flexible through crop switching, and adaptable through genetic manipulation. Inflexibility of the fossil mass resource is compensated for by highly effective technology for production of olefins and aromatics, economies of scale, and a highly developed system of conversion products with large markets. Direct and indirect strategies to substitute for petrochemicals are based on ecological succession concepts. A proliferation of lignocellulosic fractionation processes is arising from the need for inexpensive, homogeneous, chemically useful biomass feedstocks.