Biofuel production from agricultural residues
Chemistry is instrumental in advancing bio-economy and producing innovative bio-based materials such as biofuel that help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from transport.
For example, Clariant has developed the technically and commercially viable sunliquid® process for producing cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues. Until recently, agricultural residues were not considered as a viable feedstock for the large scale production of biofuels, since the structure of this material is difficult to break down by conventional methods. However, the process developed by the chemical industry managed to overcome technological challenges and reduce production costs, while producing almost carbon neutral advanced biofuels.
The technology allows to build production plants with an annual output of 50,000 to 150,000 tons of ethanol. The technology can convert different agricultural residues such as wheat straw, corn stover and sugarcane bagasse that are available globally in large quantities and do not compete with food and feed crops.
In addition to the application in the transport sector, the technology can turn agricultural residues into a range of chemicals for different industries and applications.
Associated SDG targets
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Circular Economy 2.0
In 2015, the European Commission published its Circular Economy package to promote the transition from a linear economy into a circular economy, where resource efficiency is increased and the value of products and materials is maintained for as long as possible. When a product reaches the end of its life, options such re-use, remanufacturing and recycling can be explored to create additional value. Circular Economy can bring forth economic benefits, by contributing to growth and job creation and stimulating innovation, and in parallel provide environmental benefits.
The European Commission’s definition of the bioeconomy encompasses the production of renewable biological resources and the conversion of these resources, residues, by-products and side streams into value added products, such as food, feed, bio-based products, services and bioenergy. The EU’s Bioeconomy Strategy was adopted in 2012 and updated in 2018, with the overall objective to provide inclusive economic growth within the boundaries of sustainable development.