Sustainability Assessment

A first step within the sustainability assessment is to make a general economic analysis of rubber and inulin production from Rubber dandelion (Taraxacum koksaghyz, TKS) to identify putative bottlenecks for the future commercialization of rubber and inulin from TKS. The general economic analysis was based on the consideration of two possible future business cases in "10 years" and "25 years" with rubber and inulin (for food, chemicals, biogas and bioethanol) as main products and co-products: feed and biogas from roots, leaves pulp. The whole value chain from TKS cultivation to rubber and inulin includes the following 7 main processes:

    1) TKS cultivation and harvesting;
    2) TKS transport;
    3) TKS drying & storage;
    4) Biorefinery (including processing of inulin for food and chemicals);
    5) Feed production;
    6) Biogas production and
    7) Bioethanol production.

By using different valorization approaches for the products from inulin and the residues 12 different possible business cases (6 for 10 years and 6 for 25 years) are specified (Figure 1). A "Cost calculation tool" is under development to estimate possible cost distribution along the whole value chain for TKS rubber. The starting point of this cost calculation is the estimation of the possible revenues on the market of rubber, inulin and other possible by-products from TKS biorefining. The main inputs in the tool are: technical data, revenue data from the market, characteristics of the cases, assumptions and estimations.

With the initial calculations for the general economic analysis the following issues are concluded: The total costs in the whole value chain are dominated by the cost of the TKS cultivation and harvesting as well as the cost for biorefining (including processing of inulin for food and chemicals). The other costs for transportation, storage, biogas and bioethanol production are relatively low.

Figure 1. Overview of the considered cases in the general economic analyses