Sustainable Production of Acrylic Acid via 3-Hydroxypropionic Acid from Lignocellulosic Biomass

Sarang S. Bhagwat, Yalin Li, Yoel R. Cortés-Peña, Emma C. Brace, Teresa A. Martin, Huimin Zhao, Jeremy S. Guest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lignocellulosic biomass is a promising renewable feedstock for the sustainable manufacturing of biofuels and bioproducts. Among emerging bioproducts, 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP) is of particular interest as a platform chemical to produce commercially significant chemicals such as acrylic acid. In this study, BioSTEAM-an open-source platform-was leveraged to design, simulate, and evaluate (via techno-economic analysis, TEA, and life cycle assessment, LCA) biorefineries producing acrylic acid via fermentation of sugars (glucose and xylose) to 3-HP. The biorefinery could produce acrylic acid with a minimum product selling price (MPSP) of $1.72-2.08·kg-1 (5th-95th percentiles; baseline at $1.83·kg-1). Advancements in key technological parameters (fermentation yield, titer, and saccharification solids loading) could greatly enhance the biorefinery's performance (MPSP of $1.29-1.52·kg-1 with ∼88% probability of market-competitiveness, a global warming potential of 3.00 [2.53-3.38] kg CO2-eq·kg-1, and a fossil energy consumption of 39.9 [31.6-45.1] MJ·kg-1). A quantitative sustainable design framework was used to explore alternative fermentation regimes (neutral/low-pH fermentation across titer, yield, and productivity combinations) and alternative feedstocks (first/second-generation feedstocks across price and sugar/carbohydrate content). Overall, this research highlights the ability of agile TEA-LCA to screen promising biorefinery designs, navigate sustainability trade-offs, prioritize research needs, and establish a roadmap for the continued development of bioproducts and biofuels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16659-16669
Number of pages11
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 13 2021


  • 3-hydroxypropanoic acid
  • biorefinery design
  • corn stover
  • financial viability
  • life cycle assessment (LCA)
  • techno-economic analysis (TEA)
  • titer-yield opportunity space
  • uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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