The utilization of biomass is a key technology toward sustainable development. Bioethanol can be used as a substitute for fossil-based fuel and to produce commodity chemicals, in which the latter has larger benefit returns and wider application. Therefore, switching the use of bioethanol as a feedstock of chemical processes from the conventional fossil-based one to produce large quantities of chemicals has recently received increasing attention. In this study, we investigate the potential of substituting bioethanol-based processes for fossil-based processes to produce ethyl acetate, by considering economic and environmental issues. Different technologies of producing ethyl acetate are considered. One representative fossil-based process is modeled and compared with three bioethanol-based processes, with respect to production cost and CO2 emission indicators. The results show that bioethanol-based processes have better cost saving and less global warming potential. The identification of a feasible bioethanol-based production process of ethyl acetate will largely contribute to the development of the chemical industry and help ensure the actual sustainability of such an emerging technology. © 2010 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Environ Prog, 2010
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