Biorefinery Technologies and Products

Published - Jul 2007| Analyst - Edward Gobina| Code - EGY054A
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Report Highlights

  • The global biorefinery market will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 13.0% over the next five years to reach approximately $155.9 billion in 2012, resulting in a 5.67% market penetration.
  • Recent advances in the field of industrial biotechnology are creating a paradigm shift in the way we make transportation fuel, because enzymes can economically convert plant matter to fermentable sugars.
  • Petro-based refinery additions will struggle to keep pace with demand growth over the forecast period on current construction plans. Capacity utilization rates are likely to remain high through the forecast period to over 88% in 2012. Capacity additions will be essential to meet growing demand.


While biofuels account for just 1% of world fuel consumption for transportation and the substitution of oil-based fuels is only 1.8% in the United States, in Brazil it reaches 20%. Latin America is one of the regions with the most potential to offer biofuels given its climatic advantages combined with low population density.

A large part of Brazil’s advantages derives from the climate and the availability of lands. The developed countries do not have enough land to cover demand for crops to make ethanol. With barely 1.5% of its land sown, Brazil could entirely replace gasoline with ethanol. The United States on the other hand, would have to convert half of its total corn production to ethanol in order to implement a mixture of 10% ethanol to gasoline. That would mean dedicating 15% of its agricultural land. To meet the 20% benchmark Bush set in his State of the Union address, the nation has to look South America.

Conventional resources, mainly fossil fuels are becoming limited because of the rapid increase in energy demand. This imbalance in energy demand and supply has placed immense pressure not only on consumer prices but also on the environment, prompting mankind to look for sustainable energy resources. Biomass is one such environmentally friendly renewable resource from which various useful chemicals and fuels can be produced. A system similar to a petroleum refinery is required to produce fuels and useful chemicals from biomass and is known as a biorefinery.

Biorefinery technology separates the plant biomass, so called lignocellulosic materials, into building blocks?phenols and sugars. Biorefinery technologies produce value-added products that might range from basic food ingredients to complex pharmaceuticals and from simple building materials to complex industrial composites. Products such as ethanol, biodiesel, glycerol, lipids, oils, citric acid, lactic acid, acetic acid, methanol, isopropopanol, vitamins, sugar and protein polymers, etc., could be produced for use as fuels in food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.

The crucial biorefinery products include energy, special fibers, new adhesives, biodegradable plastics, degradable surfactants, biodetergents, specific polymers and enzymes, etc.—development with a target to fill particular niches. Recently almost 50% of all detergents in the United States of America contain enzymes and the market share in Europe and Japan for enzyme-based detergents is over 90%. The cost of enzymes has dropped by more than 75% in the last 10 years as a result.


This report:


  • Provides a complete techno-economic and environmental analysis of industrial biorefineries which have been identified as the most promising route to the creation of a domestic biobased industry.
  • Covers all biomass fractionation and conversion technologies.
  • Includes forecasts to 2012 for biomass conversion processes and equipment to produce fuels, power, and chemicals from biomass.
  • Covers feedstocks, chemical products, transportation fuels.
  • Analyzes prospects for biorefineries built on different "platforms" such as the "sugar platform" based on fermentation of sugars extracted from biomass feedstocks versus the "syngas platform" based on thermochemical conversion processes.
  • Includes patent analyses, competitive analysis, R&D update, market shares, and complete company profiles.



In this report, both historic and current data have been used in the demand analysis. The results of the calculations presented here are therefore based on three components: a historic analysis of the demand in the period 2003 to 2006, data for 2007 and forecasted demand for the period through 2012.


Edward Gobina is a Full U.K. Professor of Chemical and Processing Engineering and has 25 years research and teaching experience in environmental engineering, petrochemical reaction engineering, and catalysis and membrane technology. He has been published extensively, with over 100 relevant publications in international scientific journals including four patents. He is Project analyst for BCC Research and has authored 18 BCC Research reports providing the critical links in the entire energy infrastructure chain occasioned from hydrogen to advanced oil and gas exploitation, sensors/monitoring, and LNG infrastructure. Professor Gobina is a member of the European Membrane Society (EMS), the North American Membrane Society (NAMS) and the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS). He is the current director of the Centre for Process Integration and Membrane Technology (CPIMT) within the School of Engineering at the Robert Gordon University in the U.K.

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