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Biorefining – Introduction, Opportunities and Challenges

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Presentation on theme: "Biorefining – Introduction, Opportunities and Challenges"— Presentation transcript:

1 Biorefining – Introduction, Opportunities and Challenges
How biorefineries and green products will make their mark Robert Bevan European Innovation Manager

2 What are Biorefineries?
Biorefineries are facilities that convert biomass feedstocks to bio-based energy, fuels, materials and chemicals Biomass Feedstock Conversion Technologies Product Stream Sugar/Starch Crops: e.g. sugar cane / corn Energy: e.g. heat, electricity Thermal processes: e.g. pyrolysis, gasification Oil Crops: e.g. rapeseed, soybean Fuels: e.g. biodiesel, bioethanol, biogas Chemical processes: e.g. classical catalysis Lignocellulosic Biomass: e.g. forestry & agricultural wastes Chemicals: e.g. bulk, intermediate, final Biotransformation: e.g. fermentation, enzymatic catalysis Industrial wastes: brewers spent grain, potato pealing's etc… Materials: e.g. polymers

3 Gasification / Pyrolysis
Classical Chemistry Existing Products Gasification / Pyrolysis Oils / Syn-Gas Brewers Spent Grain Sugars Chemo- / Bio-Tech Fermentation Bio-Based Products

4 Why are biorefineries important?
Growing demand for energy, fuel, materials and chemicals (growing market) Finite availability of fossil fuel resources (continued price rises) Overdependence of many countries on imported resources (national security) Reality of climate change and need to reduce greenhouse gases (societal demand for eco-production) Competitiveness within the global economy Need to stimulate growth within rural economies

5 First Generation Biorefineries
Target production of a single product stream from the biomass feedstock A number of first generation biorefineries exist today: Rapeseed oil to biodiesel Sugar cane to bioethanol Corn starch to polylactic acid Gasification of biomass to syngas followed by chemo- / bio- transformation to bioethanol (INEOS)

6 Limitations of First Generation Biorefineries
Generate high volumes of by-products that have limited commercial value (e.g. animal feed, energy recovery) Poor competitiveness compared to optimised petrochemical equivalents that derived multiple product streams and utilise ~100% of feedstocks Require feedstock crops rich in the target sugar / starch / oil fraction, typically in competition with food (cereal, oilseed) First generation biorefineries are largely being driven through legislative targets and favourable taxation for biofuels

7 Second Generation Biorefineries
Multiple product streams from sustainable biomass feedstocks – similar to petroleum refineries Lignocellulose based biorefineries


C6 SUGARS Fuels Platform & Intermediate Chemicals Polymers C5 SUGARS HEMICELLULOSE OLIGOMERS Functional food & feeds Medicinal / pharma LIGNIN MONOMERS Aromatic platform chemicals (BTX / vanillin) LIGNIN LIGNIN MACROMOLECULES Bio-resins Functional additives BULK EXTRACTIVES Organic / fatty acids Resins DIRECT EXTRACTABLES FINE EXTRACTIVES Essential oils Phytosterols

10 Advantages of Second Generation Biorefineries
Complete valorisation of feedstocks, thereby: enabling optimal use of available resources generating highest value return Integration of multiple processes leading to competitiveness in line with petrochemical refineries Enable use of more sustainable feedstocks (agricultural, forestry & industrial wastes) Viability at small to medium scale: Flexible configuration (niche markets) Rural development capitalising on regional diversity

11 Brewers Spent Grain Hemi-cellulsoe to functional food ingredients
Lignin to adhesives & additives Brewers Spent Grain Cellulose to biopolymer

12 Key limitations / Research Challenges (1)
Cost effective pre-treatment processes enabling recovery of all three lignocellulose fractions in a form suitable for subsequent downstream processing Methodologies for the valorisation of hemicellulose: Hemicellulases for controlled hydrolysis to building block sugars Engineering of microorganisms enabling fermentation of C5 sugars Methodologies for the controlled and selective depolymerisation and transformation of lignin to macromolecular and aromatic platform chemical product streams

13 Key limitations / Research Challenges (2)
Demonstration of potential for scale-up and integration of new and emerging technologies within existing and future biorefineries End-user knowledge for use of the resulting bio-based chemicals and materials Petrochemical: Simple-reduced platform chemicals Established processes for building up complexity Strong end-user knowledge base for use Bio-Based: Complex multifunction - oxidised platform chemicals Emerging non-optimised transformation processes Limited end-user knowledge base for use vs

14 Potential Global Market By 2020

15 Case Study 1 - MicroGrass
Microwave plasma pre-treatment process for the rapid breakdown of lignocellulose to sugars for fermentation of ethanol Objectives: Increased sugar yield = >90% (SOA = <40%) Quicker Process = <0.5 days (SOA = ~2 days) Reduced energy = <90% of existing processes Result = prototype demonstrator

16 Case Study 2 - BioSonic Ultrasonically assisted organosolv pre-treatment of lignocellulose biomass targeting recovery of minimally degraded cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin fractions Objectives: Efficient recovery of all three fractions with minimal degradation Quicker process times Reduced energy consumption & cost Environmentally friendly / non-toxic solvents Result = prototype demonstrator

17 Case Study 3 - AquaCell A novel microbial fuel cell process for conversion of industrial organic wastewaters to value product streams (electricity & hydrogen) Objectives: Extract value from wastewater Reduce energy and sludge disposal costs Eliminate micro-pollutants and enable water re-use (non-potable) Result = prototype demonstrator

18 Vision of the Future Companies will adopt biorefineries to valorise their waste, either directly or via centralised facilities Second and third generation technologies will be key to success Continued growth within biofuels market, but also those markets where biorefineries are able to make products better and/or cheaper Biorefineries will help to drive global competitiveness and differentiation

19 Useful Documents for Further Information
The Future of Industrial Biorefineries – World Economic Forum European Biorefinery Joint Strategic Research Roadmap – Bio-based Chemicals: Value Added Products from Biorefineries – IEA Bioenergy – Task 42 Biorefinery

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