Opportunities for small-scale biorefinery for production of sugar and ethanol in the Netherlands

R.C. Kolfschoten, M.E. Bruins, J.P.M. Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Developments such as the Common Agricultural Policy reform, growth of the bio-based economy, increasing energy prices, increasing sustainability demands, and expected growth of global sugar demand change the environment in which the sugar producing industry operates. In order to remain competitive and profi t from this, the traditional large-scale sugar producing industry can adapt. The aim of this study was to address sustainability and energy issues of the traditional sugar production process and to provide opportunities for improving the process and value chain. The methodological approach included evaluating function and resource usage of the unit operations. More sustainable alternative unit operations and processes were identifi ed and studied. The results indicate that the current sugar production and by-product valorization focuses on centralized processing and has been individually optimized per sector and industry based on relatively inexpensive transportation and energy without a focus as such on the bio-based economy. For incorporation of the opportunities, a process for targeting new bio-based markets and supplementing large-scale sugar production was designed. It was found that small-scale biorefi neries as an alternative and/or supplementation of the traditional large-scale process have the ability to increase the overall sustainability of sugarbeet processing, for example reduce energy usage and carbon footprint, by reducing transportation movements. Moreover, it provides opportunities for leaving out certain unit operations and using less capital-intensive technologies. With a holistic approach throughout the value chain, the introduction of small-scale biorefineries can help meet the challenges of the sugar producing industry, while simultaneously benefitting people, planet, and profit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-486
JournalBiofuels Bioproducts and Biorefining
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • life-cycle assessment
  • regional biomass chains
  • pulsed electric-fields
  • cooling crystallization
  • bioethanol production
  • raw juice
  • beet
  • chemicals
  • food
  • intensification

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