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Life Cycle Analysis of Biobased Pennakem's ecoMeTHF™ : Green Solvents for the Pharmaceutical and Fine Chemical Industry

By Mariano Savelski1, C. Stewart Slater1, Dave Aycock2, Bogdan Comanita2, Steve Prescott2, Jeff Shifflette2, Rowan University 1

1. Rowan University 2. PennAKem

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An environmental analysis has been conducted to determine the life cycle emissions to manufacture the green solvent, 2-methyltetrahydrofuran. Analyses have been performed using different methods to show greenness in both its production and industrial use. This solvent has the potential as a substitute for other ether and chlorinated solvents commonly used in organometallic and biphasic reactions steps in pharmaceutical and fine chemical syntheses. 2-Methyltetrahydrofuran is made from renewable agricultural by-products. The starting material, 2-furfuraldehyde, is produced from corn cob waste by converting the available pentose by acid hydrolysis. The process to convert 2-furfuraldehyde to 2-methyltetrahydrofuran occurs in two hydrogenation steps, the first being the conversion to 2-methylfuran. Cradle to gate life cycle emissions for 2-methyltetrahydrofuran are not available in commercially used environmental databases, so a new inventory was created based on known manufacturing information. An evaluation of each step in the process (2-furfuraldehyde, 2-methylfuran, 2-methyltetrahyrofuran) determined CO2 emissions, overall emissions to air, water and soil and other impact factors. Our analysis shows that 2-methyltetrahydrofuran exhibits lower impact scores in the emissions categories when compared to solvents such as tetrahydrofuran, made through a conventional chemical route. A study was performed to determine energy and emissions associated with use and recovery of 2-methyltetrahydrofuran in a typical pharmaceutical industry application. A reduced carbon footprint results from substituting 2-methyltetrahydrofuran for tetrahydrofuran due to its ability to be more easily recovered from waste streams.

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Mariano Savelski; C. Stewart Slater; Dave Aycock; Bogdan Comanita; Steve Prescott; Jeff Shifflette; Rowan University (2013), "Life Cycle Analysis of Biobased Pennakem's ecoMeTHF™ : Green Solvents for the Pharmaceutical and Fine Chemical Industry,"

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