Maximum fossil fuel feedstock replacement potential of petrochemicals via biorefineries

B. Brehmer, R.M. Boom, J.P.M. Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


The search for feedstock replacement options within the petrochemical industry should logically be based upon non-fossil resources. Retaining the functionality of the biochemicals in biomass for use as chemical products and precursors can lead to a sizeable reduction of fossil fuel consumption. This was assessed by using a limited energetic and exergetic cradle-to-factory gate analysis following the principles of life cycle assessments (LCA). A calculation matrix was created for 16 bioenergy crops in their corresponding regions and for a conceptual biorefinery oriented towards existing bulk-chemical products. The optimal biorefinery cropping system was determined according to the fossil fuel mitigation efficiency in relation to chemical feedstock products and land use consumption. The “worst” performer still has a replacement potential of 22.2 GJenergy/tonproduct and 125 GJenergy/ha while the “best” performer can achieve 50.8 GJenergy/tonproduct and 721 GJenergy/ha. In addition to energy, exergy evaluation was included, to indicate potential areas of energy efficiency improvement. The combined evaluations demonstrate that the highest potential of biomass to replace fossil fuel resources is as an alterative feedstock source in the petrochemical industry
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1103-1119
JournalChemical Engineering Research & Design
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • pyrolysis reactions
  • steam pretreatment
  • industry
  • exergy
  • hydrolysis
  • mechanisms
  • bioethanol
  • ethanol
  • biomass
  • dimers


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