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Journal of Chemistry
Volume 2015, Article ID 402315, 12 pages
Research Article

Sustainability Assessment of Chemical Processes: Evaluation of Three Synthesis Routes of DMC

1Environmental and Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Technology, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 4300, 90014 Oulu, Finland
2Department of Chemical Engineering, Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Matunga, Mumbai 400019, India
3Thule Institute, NorTech Oulu, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 7300, 90014 Oulu, Finland

Received 11 December 2014; Accepted 27 January 2015

Academic Editor: Danielle Ballivet-Tkatchenko

Copyright © 2015 Paula Saavalainen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper suggested multicriteria based evaluation tool to assess the sustainability of three different reaction routes to dimethyl carbonate: direct synthesis from carbon dioxide and methanol, transesterification of methanol and propylene carbonate, and oxidative carbonylation of methanol. The first two routes are CO2-based and in a research and development phase, whereas the last one is a commercial process. The set of environmental, social, and economic indicators selected were renewability of feedstock, energy intensity, waste generation, CO2 balance, yield, feedstock price, process costs, health and safety issues of feedstock, process conditions, and innovation potential. The performance in these indicators was evaluated with the normalized scores from 0 to +1; 0 for detrimental and 1 for favorable impacts. The assessment showed that the transesterification route had the best potential toward sustainability, although there is still much development needed to improve yield. Further, the assessment gave clear understanding of the main benefits of each reaction route, as well as the major challenges to sustainability, which can further aid in orienting development efforts to key issues that need improvement. Finally, it was concluded that a multicriteria analysis such as the one presented in this paper was a viable method to be used in the process design stage.