Demand for products made from bio-based raw materials is rising – especially where consumers come into direct contact with the products. Higher alcohols are an important raw material for the production of plasticizers used in plastics production. In the “Bioethanol 2.0“ project, a process was developed that enables the value creation of higher alcohols from bio-based ethanol and, in a next step, the production of bio-based plasticizers. For example, bioethanol, which has been used almost exclusively as a fuel until now, is used to produce high-quality material products.
Sustainable and economical synthesis route
Bioethanol offers a harmless alternative to conventional raw materials such as imported palm kernel oil and coconut oil, which have so far been used as raw materials for the production of bio-based higher alcohols. By esterifying the higher alcohols with citric and succinic acid, biologically harmless plasticizers can finally be produced. The fossil-based or non-sustainably produced alcohols based on vegetable oil are thus replaced by starting materials that are globally available and can be produced sustainably. In addition to the sustainable aspect, the process also offers economic advantages: At around 450 euros per tonne[K1] , ethanol is comparatively cheap. Plasticizers, on the other hand, cost between 1500 and 2500 euros per tonne. If the higher alcohols are produced bio-based from ethanol, and plasticizers are synthesized from them, the value of ethanol can be increased almost fivefold. The developed process allows for this leap in value creation.