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Biorefining – Introduction, Opportunities and Challenges. Robert Bevan European Innovation Manager . How biorefineries and green products will make their mark. What are Biorefineries?.

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biorefining introduction opportunities and challenges
Biorefining – Introduction, Opportunities and Challenges

Robert Bevan

European Innovation Manager

How biorefineries and green products will make their mark

what are biorefineries
What are Biorefineries?
  • Biorefineries are facilities that convert biomass feedstocks to bio-based energy, fuels, materials and chemicals

Conversion Technologies

Biomass Feedstock

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

slide3

Classical Chemistry

Gasification / Pyrolysis

Oils / Syn-Gas

Existing Products

Brewers Spent Grain

Fermentation

Chemo- / Bio-Tech

Bio-Based

Products

Sugars

why are biorefineries important
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
first generation biorefineries
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)
limitations of first generation biorefineries
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

second generation biorefineries
Second Generation Biorefineries
  • Multiple product streams from sustainable biomass feedstocks – similar to petroleum refineries
  • Lignocellulose based biorefineries
slide8

HEMICELLULOSE

CELLULOSE

LIGNOCELLULOSE

LIGNIN

slide9

LIGNOCELLULOSE BIOMASS

CELLULOSE

C6 SUGARS

  • Fuels
  • Platform & Intermediate Chemicals
  • Polymers

C5 SUGARS

OLIGOMERS

  • Functional food & feeds
  • Medicinal / pharma

HEMICELLULOSE

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
advantages of second generation biorefineries
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
slide11

Hemi-cellulsoe to functional food ingredients

Lignin to adhesives & additives

Brewers Spent Grain

Cellulose to biopolymer

key limitations research challenges 1
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
key limitations research challenges 2
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

case study 1 micrograss
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
case study 2 biosonic
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
case study 3 aquacell
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
vision of the future
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
useful documents for further information
Useful Documents for Further Information
  • The Future of Industrial Biorefineries – World Economic Forum
  • European Biorefinery Joint Strategic Research Roadmap – www.star-colibri.eu/publications
  • Bio-based Chemicals: Value Added Products from Biorefineries – IEA Bioenergy – Task 42 Biorefinery
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