A Prospective Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Monomer Synthesis: Comparison of Biocatalytic and Oxidative Chemistry

Marie A. F. Delgove, Achille-B Laurent, John M. Woodley, Stefaan M. A. De Wildeman*, Katrien V. Bernaerts, Yvonne van der Meer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Biotechnological processes are typically perceived to be greener than chemical processes. A life cycle assessment (LCA) was performed to compare the chemical and biochemical synthesis of lactones obtained by Baeyer-Villiger oxidation. The LCA is prospective (based on experiments at a small scale with primary data) because the process is at an early stage. The results show that the synthesis route has no significant effect on the climate change impact [(1.65±0.59) kgCO2  gproduct-1 vs. (1.64±0.67) kgCO2  gproduct-1 ]. Key process performance metrics affecting the environmental impact were evaluated by performing a sensitivity analysis. Recycling of solvents and enzyme were shown to provide an advantage to the enzymatic synthesis. Additionally, the climate change impact was decreased by 71 % if renewable electricity was used. The study shows that comparative LCAs can be used to usefully support decisions at an early stage of process development.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1349-1360
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Authors. Published by Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial‐NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non‐commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.


  • Biocatalysis
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Oxidative chemistry
  • Process metrics
  • Sustainable chemistry


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