Refining Waste: Ceresana Expects Growth for Biobased Solvents

Orange peels, whey or starch: Solvents are increasingly made from renewable raw materials.
KONSTANZ, Germany - Nov. 30, 2023 - PRLog -- Water is the best solvent, but it can't do everything. Whether it's liquefying acrylic paints, removing nail polish or even removing asphalt residue, strong chemicals are often needed. Increasingly, industrial solvents are no longer made only from coal, crude oil or natural gas, but from renewable raw materials. Biogenic components are also increasingly being added to conventional petrochemical solvents. Ceresana's new market report "Biobased Solvents" forecasts that the production of biosolvents will increase significantly: Analysts expect annual growth of 3.4% worldwide, and more than 5% in Asia. Sales generated with biosolvents are expected to rise to around USD 8.9 billion worldwide by 2032.

Biomass Utilization Possibilities

Solvents are used in many industries: The main consumers are manufacturers of paints and coatings, producers of printing inks, cleaning agents, and pharmaceutical, care and cosmetic products. Solvents are also needed for adhesives, chemical manufacturing processes, cooling circuits, degreasing agents, cleaning and de-icing agents. The food industry uses solvents for decaffeinating coffee, for example. In 2022, paints and coatings, cosmetics and cleaning agents accounted for around two-thirds of global sales of biobased solvents. Alpha-pinene, a terpene derived from essential oils of conifers and a byproduct of the paper manufacturing process, is used as a solvent for household cleaners, perfumes and the extraction of food additives. The coatings industry can use D-limonene as a solvent, which is obtained from orange peels, a waste product from the production of orange juice. Ethyl acetate, one of the most important solvents for plastics and adhesives, can be produced from whey, a waste product generated during milk processing.

Healthy Growth for Bioalcohols

Some petrochemical solvents are highly toxic. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are especially problematic. In contrast, sustainable solvents from biomass, while often more expensive, are ideally harmless and biodegradable. Biogenic raw materials for solvents primarily include lignocellulose, starch and sucrose, but also terpenes, vegetable oils and animal fats. Natural oils, acids and complex sugars are converted into alcohols, esters, ethers and other solvents mainly through biotechnological fermentation. Alcohols are by far the most commonly used type of solvent. Ceresana expects the largest revenue growth from biobutanol as well as dihydric and trihydric alcohols. Diols, which can be derived from fructose or cellulose, include ethylene glycol, for example. One triol that can be produced from waste cooking oil or other natural fats, and is produced in large quantities in the production of biodiesel, is glycerol - a feedstock for various biosolvents. Another promising platform chemical is furfural, derived, for example, from biomass residues such as corn stover or sugarcane bagasse.

Further information about the new market report "Biobased Solvents":

Martin Ebner
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