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Cespi D.,University of Bologna | Passarini F.,University of Bologna | Passarini F.,Centro Interdipardimentale Of Ricerca Industriale Energia E Ambiente | Mastragostino G.,University of Bologna | And 9 more authors.
Green Chemistry | Year: 2015

Glycerol is an important bio-platform molecule, potentially usable for the synthesis of various chemicals and fuel additives, the synthesis of acrolein by dehydration being one of the most studied reactions. Through the application of the life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology we investigated the production of acrolein from glycerol, by comparing two alternative scenarios in which glycerol is obtained as a co-product either in triglyceride trans-esterification to FAME or in hydrolysis to fatty acids. Our results show how the main impacts are not related to the energy involved in the two processes. In fact, the use of dedicated crops as a source of triglycerides in the biodiesel production entailed higher impacts in terms of land exploitation. On the other hand, beef tallow was assumed as a starting raw material in the production of fatty acids, and this involved some significant impacts associated with animal rearing. At the same time, however, avoiding the use of dedicated biomass ensured a lower global impact (in terms of single scores). Lastly, in order to validate the model created, a sensitivity analysis using the Monte Carlo method was performed. The two routes from glycerol were also compared with the classical chemical route where acrolein is produced by propylene oxidation. © 2015 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Cespi D.,Yale University | Cespi D.,University of Bologna | Beach E.S.,Yale University | Swarr T.E.,Yale University | And 6 more authors.
Green Chemistry | Year: 2015

Pharmaceutical chemicals are complex, high value added products that typically impose significantly greater impacts on the environment per kilogram compared to basic chemicals. A variety of green metrics have been developed to guide the design of chemistries and processes that are more sustainable. Among these, Process Mass Intensity (PMI) was selected by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute Pharmaceutical Roundtable as the key parameter to express sustainability. However, researchers were concerned that these metrics could miss relevant factors that would be addressed by a more comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Lack of inventory data for many chemicals poses a significant barrier to more extensive implementation of LCA for pharmaceuticals. A cradle-to-gate LCA of Viagra™ is used to present a practical approach to construct inventories using patent and literature data. Details of the improved inventory data were presented for four chemicals to illustrate the methodology and highlight the importance of considering out-sourced processing of reagents used in pharmaceutical synthesis. A more comprehensive impact assessment was conducted using ReCiPe v1.11 at both midpoint and endpoint levels. A comparison of two synthesis routes rated them well against results from the simpler green metrics. An area for future work is to address the lack of characterization factors for toxicity and other impact categories for many chemicals. © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2015.

Cespi D.,University of Bologna | Passarini F.,University of Bologna | Passarini F.,Centro Interdipardimentale Of Ricerca Industriale Energia E Ambiente | Vassura I.,University of Bologna | And 3 more authors.
Green Chemistry | Year: 2016

In the past few decades, innovative approaches such as Green Chemistry and Green Engineering have come out in order to set the basic principles for a more sustainable chemical industry. However, researchers also need a more scientific and quantitative tool to address the sustainability behind the application of those principles. Therefore, a multi-criteria approach based on life cycle thinking was proposed to investigate the production of 1,3-butadiene. Five indicators were selected to address sustainability: the Cumulative Energy Demand, the carbon footprint, the water depletion, a midpoint-oriented analysis method and an economic index. The use of renewable feedstock was evaluated in comparison with the traditional fossil-based route from naphtha. Two alternative pathways which use bio-ethanol were considered - the Lebedev and Ostromisslensky processes - evaluating the possibility to locate the plant in three different regions (the EU, Brazil and the US). Detailed analysis reveals how the use of bio-based feedstock leads to a significantly lower consumption of fossil sources, despite the higher exploitation of renewable resources leading to larger water withdrawals. Moreover, the assessment of the global warming potential reveals how bio-routes are far from able to be considered carbon-neutral. In addition, the ReCiPe single-score was used, showing greater sustainability of the Lebedev process compared with the traditional way. On the other hand, the two-step pathways (Ostromisslensky) result in the worst scores. An economic evaluation was also applied. The index reveals how the direct conversion into 1,3-butadiene seems more suitable than the two-step method, particularly in the case of production in the US. © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2016.

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