Biorefinery, the bridge between agriculture and chemistry

J.P.M. Sanders, E.L. Scott, H. Mooibroek

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperAcademic


The depletion in fossil feedstocks, increasing oil prices and the ecological problems associated with CO2 emissions are forcing the development of alternative resources for energy (heat and electricity), transport fuels and chemicals: the replacement of fossil resources with CO2 neutral biomass. When used in combination with environmentally sound production and processing techniques, the use of biomass can be seen as a sustainable alternative to conventional feedstocks. The production of chemicals utilises more effectively the intrinsic biomass (chemical) structure than the production of fuels or electricity from biomass does. The production of chemicals from biomass also saves more fossil energy than producing just energy. For example, some amino acids obtained from grass are very suitable starting materials for highly functionalized chemicals that are traditionally prepared from petrochemistry. Economical production routes of chemicals from biomass require large scale substitution of (bulk) chemicals which connects to current approaches and facilities (process integration) of the petrochemical industries to convert crude oil into chemical building blocks. Genetic modification of plants will increase the potential of biomass in the chemical industry because it allows an increase in the concentrations of the required (bio-)chemical pre-cursors e.g. amino acids, present. It will also be discussed how small scale (pre)processing of the biomass can be advantageous over large scale processing. This is because of lower transportation costs but also the opportunity to use process-integrations that can not be used on large scale. These integrations yield high efficiencies of energy utilization but require improvement on social or organisational levels


ConferenceProceedings of the 14th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition : Biomass for Energy, Industry and Climate Protection, Paris, France, 17-21 October 2005


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