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Keywords:

  • thermochemical biorefinery;
  • platform chemical;
  • process design;
  • sustainability

Abstract

Multiproduction is a promising option for thermochemical biorefineries in order to reduce the risk of investment. It promotes the diversification of revenue, allows a better material and energy integration, and enhances profitability, which could improve the future development of thermochemical biorefineries. However, the design of thermochemical biorefineries with multiproduction requires of new tools and new perspectives that differ from those that have been used in the design of biomass-to-liquid/gas (BTL/G) processes, which are single-product orientated. The use of a platform chemical has revealed a new field of promising possibilities for multiproduction. Nonetheless, the consideration of several kinds of final products makes difficult the calculation of the energy efficiency and the assessment of both sustainability and profitability. In the case of sustainability, it is necessary to know how to allocate the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of each product (including electricity) and the potential impact of the production of chemicals, which are not combusted in their final use and bring a net retention of carbon. The incorporation of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is assessed as a potential income for this kind of biorefinery, which could also achieve a larger saving of GHG emissions than that regulated by European administration. The design of thermochemical biorefineries with multiproduction, in the case of using a platform chemical, are able to co-produce low-value high-volume products like fuels along with high-value low-volume products like solvents and chemicals, which have been demonstrated by conventional oil refineries to be highly profitable. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd