Journal of Biomaterials and Nanobiotechnology, 2011, 2, 335-336
doi:10.4236/jbnb.2011.23041 Published Online July 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JBNB
A New Method for Industrial Production of
Lan Ge1, Xiaomin Wu1, Jianwen Chen1, Jialin Wu2
1Dachen Group Shanghai Branch, Shanghai, China; 2College of Material Science and Engineering, Donghua University, Shanghai,
Received October 9th, 2010; revised May 20th 2011; accepted June 9th, 2011.
A new industrial production method of 2,3-butanediol is discussed in this paper. C2-4 bio-polyol is prepared by combin-
ing biological fermentation and chemical cleavage, with corn starch as raw material. In this industrial method, high
purity 2,3-butanediol can be obtained after distillation and purification. Low p rod uction cost of this method provides an
effective support for 2,3-butaned iol large-scaled application.
Keywords: 2,3-Butanediol, Bio-glycol, Corn, Sorbitol
2,3-butanediol is an odorless, colorless and transparent
liquid at normal temperature, which is widely used in
chemical, food, fuel , aeronautical and other fields; Methyl-
ethyl-ketone, the dehydration product of 2,3-butanediol
can be used for resins, paints and other solvents; The
dehydration esterification forms of 2,3-butanediol is the
synthesis of polyimide precursors, which can be applied
to drugs, cosmetics, lotion, etc; 2,3-butanediol can be fur-
ther converted to 1,3-butadiene, which can be used for
synthetic rubber, polyester and polyurethane and due to
the greet need for synthetic rubber in World War II,
2,3-butanediol became even more important than be-
fore.2,3-butanedio l itself can serve as a monomer used to
synthesize polymer and its levorotatory forms can be
used as antifreeze for its low freezing point [1,2]. After
catalytic dehydrogenation, the 2-acetyl forms of 2,3-bu-
tanediol can be used as food additives for high-value
spices and in China, 2,3-butanediol have been added to the
spirits in order to improve the wine flavor [3,4]. 2,3-buta-
nediol is a highly valuable fuel with the burning value of
27198 J/g, which is comparable to other liquid fuels as
ethanol (29055 J/g) and methanol (22081 J/g); it can also
be converted to methyl-ethyl-ketone by sulfuric acid ca-
talyzed dehydration, which is considered as an effective
liquid fuel additive for its higher burning value than
ethanol. After combination with methyl-ethyl-ketone an d
hydrogenation reaction, 2,3-butanediol can be converted
to octane, which is used to produce high-quality aviation
fuel. Nowadays, thanks to the need for the pro- duction of
polybutylene terephthalate resin, butyrolactone and elastic
fibers, the production of 2,3-butanediol is growing at an-
nual rate of 4 - 7 percent [5]. In recent years, with the v ig-
orous development of industrial production and decreasing
oil resources, the demand for 2,3-butanediol is increasing
year by year.
Because of the unique structure and costly chemical
synthesis, 2,3-butanediol has not been produced on a
large scale and its high price (60,000 - 130,000 yuan/ton)
also leads to the inadequate development of its applica-
tion. Therefore, although the fermentation process of
2,3-butanediol has basically reached the level of alcohol
industry, it has not been industrialized. In recent years,
with the rapid development of bio-diesel industry and the
year-by-year increase of its by-product glycerol, a co-
generation routing of bio-diesel and 1,3-propanediol has
been developed in order to make full use of glycerol and
2,3-butanediol is one of the by-pr o duct o f th i s rout e [6] .
As a bio-polyol project with the annual output of
200,000 tons has been put into production by Changchun
Dacheng Group, a new route for the production of 2,3-
butanediol has cone out in Figure 1. By the independent
innovation and the use of biomass as raw materials,
Changchun Dacheng Group has successfully developed
the catalyst technology needed in that project. This cata-
lyst has a high selectivity to the unique hydroxyl struc-
*The project to support the revitalization of the industry in northeast
China by Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Munici-
ality in 2007(07125820 7) .
A New Method for Industrial Production of 2,3-Butanediol
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JBNB
Figure 1. A new route for the industrial production of 2,3-
ture of biomass molecules and can turn the biomass ma-
terials like corn starch into glucose by hydrolysis. The
glucose can be converted into sorbitol after catalytic hy-
drogenation, which subsequently cracks into the mixture
of C2-4 dihydroxy alcohol and polyol. After the heavy
ends ( including organic salts) has been removed, distil-
lated and refined, propylene glycol, ethylene glycol and
butanediol with purity more than 97% can be obtain ed, in
which the yield rate of 2,3-butanediol is 5% [7]. In this
production line, the production capacity of 2,3-buta-
nediol can reach 10,000 tons/year, while the current do-
mestic consumption is up to 1000 tons/year. Con sidering
the limitations of the market, presently, most of the
2,3-butanediol is not sold as a separate product, but
mixed with other products. As propylene glycol and eth-
ylene glycol is the raw materials with wide applications
in the bulk chemical industries, the annual demand is
quite big. The polyol obtainded after the further distilla-
tion and purification can replace the similar petro-
chemical products with a more competitive price.
Changchun Dacheng Group is planning to expand the
annual production cap acity of bio-polyol to 400,000 tons
and a corn industrial park with annual production of 1
million tons is under preparation, which can produce
60,000 tons 2,3-butanediol annually.
Although currently the production of 2,3-butanediol by
bio-fermentation is widely studied, it has not b een indus-
trialized. As the fermentation process has high require-
ment on environment and bacteria, which leads to the
high cost of production, how to reasonably control the
costs and ensure the stability and yield has become the
main factors that constrain its development at present.
Currently the high cost, low yield and high price of 2,3-
butanediol has greatly limited its application. With the
further rise of industrial demand and constant develop-
ment of its application in various fields, the demand for
2,3-butanediol will corresponding ly in crease year by year.
The industrial line of combining bio-fermentation and
chemical cracking by Dacheng Group has offered an
effective support to the large-scale industrial application
of 2,3-buranediol.
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