People and Environment

Biorefinery System and Climate Change

Building a sustainable future and achieving the challenging goals of the European Green Deal depend heavily on the circular bioeconomy. The EU Bioeconomy Strategy mentioned an activity to try and support the establishment of new sustainable biorefineries and evaluate the types and estimated potential. To fully utilize the value of the biomass, create the so-called added value, and reduce the amount of naturally produced substance or waste, one method to mitigate the detrimental effects of local ecosystems is the conversion of biomass and organic waste into different types of chemical substances or biomaterials and energy. This comprehensive strategy embodies the idea of biorefineries and is gaining popularity all around the world.

A general definition of biorefining is the environmentally friendly conversion of biomass into a variety of commercially viable bio-based goods, such as co-produced food and feed, materials and chemicals, and bioenergy (power, heat, and fuels). It is a sophisticated technological system that integrates procedures for converting biomass into fuels and chemicals, either as finished products or to be processed further. Since crude oil, natural gas, or other fossil fuels are used as substrates in biorefineries, they are analogous to crude oil processing plants. The employment of biorefinery in energy consumption and resource waste processes can be seen as a technique for implementing sustainable development.

Biorefining aims to extract all of the value-added from the biomass feedstock, leaving little or no waste behind. This will lessen the total environmental impact and improve the economy so that these methods can compete with the petrochemical sector. Reduced reliance on fossil fuels and the need to decarbonize the economy are the driving forces behind the use of biomass for chemicals and materials. Many Sustainable Development Goals, including good health and well-being, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, and climate action, are supported by the bioeconomy, of which biorefineries are crucial. Biorefinery products can also have one or more environmental advantages, such as biodegradability, low ecotoxicity, recyclability, and low human toxicity. Products from biorefineries can potentially substitute materials with high energy requirements, such as steel, to reduce their carbon footprint.