Techno-economic analysis of biobased novolac resin production

Research poster
Asmita Khanal
Ajay Shah
Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Novolac resins are produced by reacting phenol and formaldehyde, which are both conventionally obtained from petroleum refining. However, phenolic compounds present in biooil obtained via fast pyrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass can be used to partially substitute petroleum-derived phenol. Thus, the objective of this study was to analyze the techno-economic feasibility of producing novolac resin by partially substituting petroleum-derived phenol with biomass-based phenol in the U.S. For this, the analysis was done at two different novolac resin production capacities of 25,000 and 100,000 metric tons per year, respectively, as representative of the existing small- and large-scale resin production facilities in the U.S. Material balance and energy requirements for the system were determined to estimate resources (equipment, raw materials, other consumables, utilities and labor) requirements, capital and operating costs, and the financial parameters including the minimum selling price, net present value, payback period and return on investment. Biobased novolac resin production costs for 25,000 t/y and 100,000 t/y capacities were $1,341/t and $1,140/t, respectively. Biooil to phenol substitution ratio, phenol content in biooil, phenol cost, plant size, biomass feedstock cost, and resin synthesis residence time were the most sensitive parameters affecting the novolac resin production cost. Financial analysis showed that production of biobased novolac resin is economically feasible.