According to the researchers, the chemical industry is reluctant to use sugar as a building block for chemicals and fuels. This is a wasted opportunity, they argue.
Worldwide there is an excess production of sugar. Sugar beet and sugar cane excel by an unsurpassed yield per hectare. At the same time, governments are conducting campaigns to limit human intake of sugar. There is even talk about the additional taxation of sugar in foods. This means there is no sound basis for the assumption that the chemical industry would use food crops for the production of chemicals, other than emotion. The industry fears reputational damage.
The production of sugar-based chemicals or fuels is simpler and more sustainable than that of second-generation biomass, such as wood and straw. They are the primary focus now in the biobased economy. Second generation biomass requires extra processing and conversion steps that make processing by the chemical industry not only complicated and expensive, but also less sustainable, the nova Institute states.