Acid Catalyzed Production of Green Butadiene from Butanediols 

Sustainable production of butadiene from paper and cardboard waste through fermentation to 1,3-butanediol and catalytic conversion. 

GREEN-B2B-2 aims at the sustainable production of 30 kt/a green, ‘add-on’ 1,3-butadiene (5 to 10%admixture in conventional 1,3-butadiene) via the microbial production of 1,3-butanediol(1,3-BDO) from waste biomass (and CO2) and subsequent acid catalyzed dehydration into 1,3-butadiene (1,3-BD). This will be achieved through innovative genetic engineering, (gas) fermentation, catalyst design and synthesis, and by kinetic and process modeling done by a diverse and complementary team of scientists.

Concrete objectives and criteria

1. Wastepaper fermentation to 1,3-butanediol

  • Engineering Cupriavidus necator to convert paper/cardboard hydrolysate streams into 1,3-BDO
  • Widening the substrate range of C. necator to consume 2nd generation sugars. A maximal conversion of xylose, which will be optimized based on results of the sprint-cSBO, and arabinose is envisaged.
  • Increase understanding of the mixotrophic potential of engineered C. necator to achieve maximal carbon efficiency, based on the initial promising proof-of-concept obtained in the sprint cSBO.
  • Development and optimization of an advanced combined gas/liquid fermentation to achieve 1,3-BDO production from 2nd generation sugars and CO2 with maximized productivity and carbon yield, striving towards 1-2 g/L/h of 1,3-BDO and >80% of the theoretical carbon yield, respectively, for the ultimately optimized process.
  • Design of efficient downstream purification protocols to meet the requirements for further processing, based on interaction with the partners in catalysis development and process design.

2. Acid catalysis dehydration of 1,3-butanediol to 1,3-butadiene

Efficient one-step catalytic transformation of 1,3-BDO into 1,3-BD in a classical plug-flow reactor using active, steam and coke tolerant catalytic system capable to reach 90% selectivity towards BD with productivity of 1 g 1,3-BD per catalyst per hour stable for at least 100 h on stream. This requires the following:

  • Rational design of zeolite catalysts including porosity and correct location, number, and strength of the acid sites to accelerate 1,3-BDO dehydration and avoid propylene and cokes formation.
  • Understanding the major cause of catalyst coking and selectivity lowering, and direct the design for improvements.
  • Understanding the impact of water on the acid-catalyzed chemistry
  • Clarification of the impact biological impurities, and advice of further purification, if necessary.

3. Process design, simulation, and techno-economic benchmark

  • Microkinetic modelling of 1,3-BDO dehydration and investigation of the effect of a catalyst change based on the experimental data acquired within the project.
  • Enhanced predictive performance of process simulation software based on a microkinetic model, equipped with mass and heat transfers models, imbedded in a process simulator. Detailed reactor simulations should have a run time below 5 minutes on an ordinary desktop computer.
  • Design of a green and economically feasible integrated butadiene production process proof of concept at a relevant scale (i.e., 30 kt/a) aimed at complementing Flanders’ 1,3-BD market with 10% while limiting the cost increase to 5%.
  • Process assessment of the major competing technologies, i.e., steam cracking and the ethanol-to-butadiene process resp., with a similar level of detail as the GREEN-B2B-2 process. As such, a levelized assessment and comparison of their economic performance can be made.

ACTIVITIES of the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant

BBEPP is responsible for the development of an advanced fermentation process to produce 1,3-butanediol from paper and cardboard waste and CO2.

In addition, BBEPP will develop sustainable and cost-efficient DSP strategies for 1,3-butanediol 



This Project fits within the Moonshot program and has received financial support of the Flemish Government and Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO), project nr.HBC.2022.0530.