From the Process Engineering To the Biorefinery

1st generation biorefinery (2010)

1st generation biorefineries are based on direct utilization of classical forms of agricultural biomass (see figures 2 & 3 and tables 3 & 4) :

  • Agricultural and forestry products
  • Agricultural and forestry residues

Figure 3 illustrates some examples of production of biofuels from agricultural products using 1st generation biorefinery processes.

According to figure 3 and table 3, there are two types of 1st generation biorefinery processes.

  • Conversion processes of sugar-rich biomass by fermentation for bio-ethanol production
  • Conversion processes of oil-rich biomass by transesterification for bio-diesel production
Agricultural product containing Process Type Fuel product By produit
Sugar Fermentation BioEthanol Otherl
Vegetable oil Transesterification BioDiesel Glycerol

Table no.3 : Various biorefinery processes

Biomasse type Intermediate products Finished products
Raw product % Oil % Sugar   Product Yield %  
Agricultural product Rapeseed 30-50%     BioDiesel 40-50  
Sunflower 30-50%    
Soybean 11-22%    
Palme 40-50%    
Jatropha 30-37%    
Beet sugar   15-18%   BioEthanol 53%L glucose juce
40 - 95%
"85-135 L/
Tons cane"
Sugar cane   10-12.5%  

Table no.4 : Various 1st generation biomass resources and products

The following issues related to 1st generation biorefining processes should be addressed:

  • Risk of an excessive consumption of food crop
  • Risk of deterioration of organic quality and mineral content of soil
  • Excessive utilization of fertilizers and pesticides to improve production levels
  • Competition between food and biorefinery
  • Risk of deforestation on the long-run

Figure no.2 : Example of a 1st generation biorefinery

Figure no.3 : examples of a 1st generation biorefinery. (Translation from IFP, Panoram 2007, Les nouvelles filières biocarburants)

A simplified illustration of process schemes in 1st generation biorefining is presented in figure 4.

This mode of biomass conversion constitutes one of the principal axes of research for CRIP-Biorefinery members (more details in the section: Groups, laboratories and research chairs):

  • Professor Robert Legros
  • Professor Mario Jolicoeur
  • Professor Louis Fradette
  • Professor François Bertrand


Figure no.4 : A simplified illustration of a 1st generation biorefinery from vegetable oils. (Source : L. Bournay, D. Casanave, B. Delfort, G. Hillion, J.A. Chodorge, New heterogeneous process for biodiesel production: A way to improve the quality and the value of the crude glycerin produced by biodiesel plants, Catal Today, 106, 1-4, 2005, pp. 190-192)

An exemple of a fermentor in biorefinery is shown in figure 4Bis.

Figure no.4Bis: Illustration of a fermentor in biorefinery. (Source: Bioengineering AG, Switzerland)

Evolution of the production [+...]