Process Economics Program Report 147
Chemicals from Wood and Wood Wastes
Published: June 1982
This report reviews the technology, economics, and market status of several specialty organic chemicals from wood wastes and wood pulp residues including vanillin, dimethyl sulfide, dimethyl sulfoxide, phenol and benzene, pyrolysis oil, and furfural.
Wood, wood wastes, residues, and other biomass sources have been the subject of recent extensive surveys, economic studies, and technical investigations as alternatives to petroleum and coal, not only as a source of energy but also as a feedstock for a number of basic chemicals, such as methanol and ammonia from synthesis gas and ethylene or butadiene from fermentation ethanol.
The comparison of petrochemical and biomass routes to organic chemicals is graphically illustrated in the report with the specialty chemicals reviewed in this report highlighted in heavy lines. The biomass routes were not recognized at the time of writing as being competitive with petroleum or coal for the production of basic high volume industrial chemicals. However, wood, its wastes and other biomass have been commercially developed for the production of specialty chemicals that take advantage of the specific chemical structures of wood and its mutations arising from pulping processes and various chemical reactions.
Other by-products available from wood include lignosulfonates, tall oil, turpentine, fractionated rosin acids, gums, sugars, and yeast, all of which have been well known to the pulping industry for a long time and are not accordingly reviewed in this report. While ethanol and methanol processes from wood and wood wastes are not specifically covered in this report because of previous coverage in PEP reports, their schematic flow diagrams from waste wood feedstocks are Included and Illustrated in the appendix of the report as a matter of information.