A methodology for evaluating the sustainability of biorefineries: framework and indicators


  • Julio C. Sacramento-Rivero

    Corresponding author
    1. Faculty of Chemical Engineering, Universidad Autonoma de Yucatán, Merida, Mexico
    • Facultad de Ingeniería Química, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Campus de Ciencias Exactas e Ingenierías, Periférico Nte. Km. 33.5, Tablaje Catastral 13615, Col. Chuburná de Hidalgo Inn, Mérida, México.
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Sustainability today is a ubiquitous word; in its relatively brief life, the concept has taken many shapes, so that today the word is frequently used, sometimes overused, and many times misused. Proposing good indicators to measure sustainability is a challenging task; the most common methodologies for evaluating the sustainability of processes and products do so by comparing various designs and selecting the best option, according to predefined criteria. The methodology herein proposed uses a sustainability scale that is based on an absolute reference, and is normalized for sustainability indicators applicable to biorefineries. The resulting framework consists of 5 indicator categories, and a total of 14 metrics; this tool can be used to evaluate the sustainability of biorefinery designs, and also for ex-post evaluations of performance. © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd