From the Process Engineering To the Biorefinery

Advantages of biomass and solid waste

Sustainable utilization of natural sources of biomass has at least the following benefits:

  • Rational utilization of biomass as an alternative source of renewable energy which integrates perfectly with a vision of sustainable development and life cycle management (
  • Recovery of resources from domestic and biomass processing (forestry, agriculture) waste.
  • Production of new forms of clean energy (bioethanol, biodiesel) with minimal environmental impact and green-house gas emissions. Figure 1 illustrates an example of a neutral carbon dioxide cycle from biochemical conversion of biomass.
  • Reduction of dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Generation of multiple-product streams: food, energy, hydrocarbons, plastics and pharmaceuticals.
  • Social and economic development of rural areas.

Practically, although the carbon dioxide cycle is never actually neutral as illustrated in table 2, it is at least more favourable than direct combustion of fossil fuels.

Between 30 and 94% reduction in green house gases could be achieved by utilization of bio-fuels (see list in table 2) compared to petroleum-based hydrocarbons.

bilan de GES

Table no.2 Gain balance green house gas emissions of biofuels versus oil (translated from IFP, Panorama 2007, Biocarburants : quels bilans sur l’environnement ?)

Noticeable reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and environmental protection in a framework of global life-cycle analysis of biomass conversion faces the following challenges:

  • Addressing regulations and strict controls to avoid a culture of consumption and to reduce the usage of fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Improved integration and supply chains to existing industries.
  • Optimization of industrial conversion of hydrocarbons.

Within this framework, several biorefinery application types could be identified from literature:

  • 1st generation Biorefinery (2010).
  • 2nd generation biorefinery (2015).
  • 3rd generation biorefinery.

Figure no.1 : Quasi Neutrality Cycle CO2 in a biochemical conversion process of biomass (source : U.S. Department of energy Joint Genome Institute

Biorefinery definition [+...]