Techno-economic assessment of microbial limonene production

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To satisfy the growing demand for limonene, novel pathways for microbial production of limonene have been sought. A techno-economic analysis is carried out for one such process producing limonene from sugar at an industrial plant scale to assess potential economic viability. A conceptual design of the process is developed, in which a gas stripping-solvent scrubbing method is chosen for recovering limonene from bioreactors based on consideration of payback time and process operability. Minimum limonene selling prices are estimated over a range of fermentation productivity based on the calculation of net present value using discounted cash flow method. Under 45% of the maximum theoretical yield, the selling price reaches $19.9/kg, which could be competitive with established production processes when fermentation productivity is above 0.7 kg/(m3·h). Reduction of cost could be realised through improvement of microbial strains, utilisation of cheaper feedstocks, reduction in capital investment and strategic business planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122666
JournalBioresource Technology
Early online date23 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • techno-economic analysis
  • biorefinery
  • terpene
  • gas-stripping
  • minimum selling price


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