meaning and concept
Biorefining is defined as the “Sustainable processing of biomass into a portfolio of marketable biobased products (food and feed ingredients, chemicals, materials, fuels, energy, minerals, CO2) and bioenergy (fuels, power, heat)”(1).
The realisation that oil, coal and gas are finite resources and contribute heavily to global warming, has led to the development of alternative sources for the chemicals and products we require in the modern world.
The term and the concept of a biorefinery is derived from the petroleum based industry model, but the biorefining process utilises biomass as a feedstock instead of fossil materials.
The development of refineries for fossil materials has allowed us to build a very sophisticated refinery industry, and that knowledge can now be applied to convert biomass residues to useful products.
Biomass residues contain all the elements we can extract from oil (and more if we extract whole molecules), and, with modern technological structures, and our more advanced knowledge of biological systems, such as, enzyme systems and bacterial products we can advance their utilisation by millions of years.
Bio-derived products provides an alternative to petroleum-based products as they have been shown to have properties similar to conventionally generated products.
Biorefining can offer a very sound business case for present and future developments
(1) The International Energy Agency – Bioenergy Task 42