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 Succinic acid markets and applications
  • Succinic acid markets and applications
  • At present, succinic acid  is mostly produced by the chemical process from n-butane through maleic anhydride. It is sold at the price of $5.9 to 9.0 kg−1 depending on its purity. Its manufacturing cost is affected by several factors including succinic acid productivity and yield, the costs of raw materials, and recovery method. Particularly, the cost of maleic anhydride has been known to contribute most significantly to the overall cost of succinic acid production. In 2002, maleic anhydride made from n-butane was sold at an average selling price of $0.977 kg-1.

    Considering that the overall conversion yield of maleic anhydride to succinic acid is 95% (w/w), the major raw material cost in the chemical process is $1.027 kg-1 succinic acid. On the other hand, more than 30,000,000 t of glucose is produced annually worldwide, and it is sold at a price of about $0.39 kg-1.
    Assuming the succinic acid yield of 91% (w/w) on glucose, the raw material cost in the bioprocess is then $0.428 kg-1 succinic acid. It is thus clear that fermentative production of succinic acid from renewable resources can compete with the chemical process. More importantly, the limited nature of fossil reserves and ever increasing environmental concerns are urging us to replace the petroleum-based chemical processes with bio-based processes. Renewable resources are more than abundant,currently being estimated to be 170 billion tons per year,of which only 3.5% is being utilized.

    The market potential for succinic acid itself and its derivatives is estimated to be more than 270,000 tyr-1 in 2004 .The estimated potential market size for the polymers polysuccinate esters and polyamides that can be synthesized from succinic acid is up to 27 million tons per year in 2001. Although the overall economics still limits the bio-based succinic acid production,the assessment of raw material cost and the estimation of potential market size clearly suggest that the current petroleumbased succinic acid process will be replaced by the fermentative succinic acid production system in the near future.

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