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Potential routes for thermochemical biorefineries

Authors

  • Pedro Haro,

    Corresponding author
    • University of Seville, Spain
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    • Classification of biorefineries is still under discussion, particularly for the case of thermochemical processing of biomass. The Bioenergy Task 42 (International Energy Agency) has as its objective the classification of biorefinery systems and has proposed a classification method based on four features (i.e. platforms, products, feedstocks, and processes).[45] Although this classification method is useful, for example, for C5/C6 sugars and lignin platform systems, it may not be best option in order to make a thorough classification of biorefineries using syngas as a platform.[46]

  • Pedro Ollero,

    1. University of Seville, Spain
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  • Ángel L. Villanueva Perales,

    1. University of Seville, Spain
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  • Fernando Vidal-Barrero

    1. University of Seville, Spain
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Correspondence to: Pedro Haro, Bioenergy Group, Chemical and Environmental Engineering Department. Escuela Técnica Superior, de Ingeniería, University of Seville. Camino de los Descubrimientos s/n. 41092 Seville, Spain. E-mail: pedrogh@us.es

Abstract

This critical review focuses on potential routes for the multi-production of chemicals and fuels in the framework of thermochemical biorefineries. The up-to-date research and development in this field has been limited to BTL/G (biomass-to-liquids/gases) studies, where biomass-derived -synthesis gas (syngas) is converted into a single product with/without the co-production of -electricity and heat. Simultaneously, the interest on biorefineries is growing but mostly refers to the biochemical processing of biomass. However, thermochemical biorefineries (multi-product plants using thermochemical processing of biomass) are still the subject of few studies. This scarcity of studies could be attributed to the limitations of current designs of BTL/G for multi-production and the limited number of considered routes for syngas conversion. The use of a platform chemical (an intermediate) brings new opportunities to the design of process concepts, since unlike BTL/G processes they are not restricted to the conversion of syngas in a single-reaction system. Most of the routes presented here are based on old-fashioned and new routes for the processing of coal- and natural-gas-derived -syngas, but they have been re-thought for the use of biomass and the multi-production plants (−thermochemical -biorefinery). The considered platform chemicals are methanol, DME, and ethanol, which are the -common products from syngas in BTL/G studies. Important keys are given for the integration of reviewed routes into the design of thermochemical biorefineries, in particular for the selection of the mix of co-products, as well as for the sustainability (co-feeding, CO2 capture, and negative -emissions). © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

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