Bio-based adipic acid production: feasibility analysis using a multi-criteria decision matrix

Serpil Unlu, Wei Niu, Yas¸ ar Demirel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to perform a feasibility analysis to make an informed decision about whether two bio-based processes can replace the current petroleum-based adipic acid production process. The first of these processes, which is considered in Case 1, is the conversion of biorefinery lignin residue (BLR) to adipic acid. The process involves the base-catalyzed depolymerization of lignin to give low molecular weight monomers, and the subsequent microbial conversion of these monomers to cis,cis-muconic acid by genetically engineered Pseudomonas putida followed by the separation and purification of the muconic acid and catalytic upgrading to adipic acid. The second process, which is considered in Case 2, is the catalytic production of adipic acid from glucose. First, glucose is oxidized to produce glucaric acid, and then glucaric acid is converted to adipic acid by hydrodeoxygenation in an acidic environment and in the presence of a metal catalyst. The results of the bio-based adipic acid production processes were compared with the base case of the current petroleum-based commercial adipic acid production from cyclohexane. The feasibility analysis was performed with the aid of the multi-criteria decision matrix consisting of economic and sustainability metrics. The process design and optimization of all the processes for adipic acid production in Aspen Plus was based on the available experimental data. The glucose-based process appears to be feasible and outperforms the lignin-based process, as well as the conventional process of adipic acid production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)794-807
Number of pages14
JournalBiofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • biomass utilization
  • biorefinery residue
  • feasibility analysis
  • renewable chemicals
  • sustainability
  • waste lignin utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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