Biocatalytic Production of 2-α- d -Glucosyl-glycerol for Functional Ingredient Use: Integrated Process Design and Techno-Economic Assessment

Andreas Kruschitz, Bernd Nidetzky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Advanced biomanufacturing builds on production processes that are both profitable and sustainable. Integrated design of process unit operations, geared to output efficiency and waste minimization and guided by a rigorous techno-economic assessment, is essential for development aligned to these central aims. Here, we demonstrate such a development for the biocatalytic production of the biological extremolyte 2-O-α-d-glucosyl-glycerol (2-GG) for functional ingredient application. The process was aligned in scale over all steps (∼180 g product; ∼2.5 L reaction mixture) and involved continuous enzymatic synthesis from sucrose and glycerol interlinked with reactive extraction and nanofiltration for product isolation (purity of ∼80 wt %) and side stream recovery. Glycerol used in ∼6-fold excess over sucrose was recycled, and hydrothermal conversion into 5-(hydroxymethyl)furfural was evaluated for the fructose by-product released from sucrose. Based on a process mass intensity (total mass input/mass product) of 146, ∼80% of the total mass input was utilized and an E-factor (mass waste/mass product) of 28 was obtained. EcoScale analysis revealed a penalty point score of 44, suggesting an acceptable process from a sustainability point of view. Process simulation for an annual production of 10 tons 2-GG was used for the techno-economic assessment with discounted cash flow analysis. The calculated operating costs involved 35 and 47% contributions from materials and labor, respectively. About 91% of the material costs were due to chemicals for the reactive extraction-acidic stripping step, emphasizing the importance of material reuse at this step. Glycerol recycling involved a trade-off between waste reduction and energy use for the removal of water. Collectively, the study identifies options and boundaries of a profitable 2-GG process. The minimum selling price for 2-GG was calculated as ∼240 € kg-1 or smaller. The framework of the methodology presented can be generally important in applied bio-catalysis: it facilitates closing of the gap between process design and implementation for accelerated development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1246-1255
Number of pages10
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2022


  • 2-α- d -glucosyl-glycerol
  • advanced biomanufacturing
  • integrated process design
  • sucrose phosphorylase
  • techno-economic assessment
  • waste prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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