Production of 1,3-butadiene and ε-caprolactam from C6 sugars: Techno-economic analysis

Jonathan Moncada*, Iris Vural Gursel, Ernst Worrell, C.A. Ramirez Ramirez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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This study assesses the techno-economic performance of production lines for obtaining 1,3-butadiene and ε-caprolactam from C6 sugars. Process models were developed to assess their technical performance and to derive inputs for economic analysis. The economic assessment was carried out using net present value (NPV) and production costs as indicators. Sensitivity analyses were carried out to account for the effects of variations in inputs, such as processing capacity, valorization of humins, and prices, on the economic outputs. Results indicate that both production lines perform similarly from an energy intensity point of view (34-50 MJ/kg of main product). However, in terms of yield (kg of product per kg C6 sugar), caprolactam shows higher values by a factor of 1.6-3.6 in comparison to that of butadiene. The butadiene production line is not economically attractive, showing a negative NPV (-647 to -642 M€) and production costs 3-5 times higher than the reference market price (Case I 4369 €/tonne, Case II 3406 €/tonne). The caprolactam production line seems to be unfeasible with negative NPV (-229 M€) and production costs 30% higher than the reference price (Case III 2595 €/tonne, Case IV 1875 €/tonne). However, if the production yield is increased, the caprolactam production line becomes economically attractive with production costs 6% lower than its reference market price. The production costs of caprolactam can be further decreased if the process capacity is increased, reflecting the benefits of the economies of scale, as well as including heat and power produced from humins. Overall, the caprolactam production line shows higher economic potential.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalBiofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Butadiene
  • C6 sugars
  • Caprolactam
  • Process modeling
  • Techno-economic analysis


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